Boater Dollars Float BIG Grants For 2011
More than $13.5 million in boater- and angler-paid excise taxes are going to work to provide transient facilities for cruisers in 11 states this year through the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded grants for 16 projects in 2011, to construct docks, marina slips, dinghy landings, pumpout stations, mooring fields, and other facilities designed to serve cruising boaters. “The Boating Infrastructure Grant program is one of the many ways we support access and provide quality outdoor opportunities for the nation’s recreational anglers and boaters,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in announcing the grants last March. “These grants also spur major construction projects, creating jobs and providing much-needed economic benefits,” he added.
At the same time, the service also released approximately
$2.7 million to 27 states, commonwealths, and territories to fund
smaller projects designed to serve transient vessels. Those grants
are capped at $100,000 and bring the total for 2011 to $16.2 million. Nationally, new BIG projects range from dockage to accommodate 30 transient vessels on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
in Alabama to new floating docks for 53 transient boat slips on
Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio; space for 80 transient vessels on
the Hudson River that will give cruising boaters easy access to
New York City; and state-of-the-art floats with upgraded amenities
for 54 transients, replacing two dilapidated docks at Anacortes,
Washington, on Puget Sound.
Congress To Reauthorize Trust Fund
The Boating Infrastructure Grant program is just one part of
a number of important initiatives that boaters and anglers have
supported for over a quarter of a century through the Sport Fish
Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, now due for reauthorization
by Congress. The trust fund, which is administered by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, provides
about $650 million annually to the watery world that boaters care
Technically, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust
Fund expires September 30 of this year and if not reauthorized,
funding could decrease by about 80 percent, effectively crippling
state boating programs, including boat-ramp maintenance and
development projects, boating safety education and enforcement
efforts, sewage pumpout grants, and funding for many state boat
registration and titling programs.
Here are some highlights from the period 2004 to 2009:
3,000 Boating access sites operated and maintained
2,355 Boat sewage pumpout stations
1,972,368 Hours of state on-the-water safety enforcement
12,748 Search-and-rescue recovery cases
70,000 Acres of wetlands habitat restored and managed
3. 8 Billion fish stocked
BoatU.S. is part of a coalition of organizations working to
see that the trust fund is reauthorized. Expect more news as
the reauthorization progresses in BoatU.S. Magazine and at
Long-term, more transient docks could be added
in front of the historic Hotel Stockton now under
renovation and dating from 1910.