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By Boat U.S. 

Grants Available To Help Pay For Visiting-Boater Facilities

The deadline to apply for these monies is Friday, Sept. 18


September 1, 2015

Visiting boaters, whether staying over for just one night or a couple weeks, offer real economic benefits and add to the vitality of waterfront communities, marinas and boat clubs. But laying out the welcome mat can be challenging.

Transient boat docks that are protected and safe for overnight tie-ups, deep-water channels, restrooms, and pumpouts - just some of the infrastructure necessary to draw visiting boaters - can be expensive. However, the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program from the US Fish and Wildlife Service can help communities, marinas and boat clubs pay up to half of these improvements, but they need to apply by Sept.18 by going to their state's BIG administrator, typically a boating, wildlife or natural resources agency.

Not A Government Handout

Not a government handout, funding for the competitive BIG program comes from excise taxes on boat gasoline and fishing tackle that boaters and anglers pay into the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

The goal is to give cruising boaters convenient access to shore-side amenities via slips dedicated to transient boats as well as mooring fields and dinghy docks. Municipal or privately owned marinas as well as boat clubs can install these conveniences including moorings, restrooms (including floating ones), fuel docks, electricity, water and sewage utilities, recycling and pumpout stations, and undertake small dredging projects (up to $200,000) using BIG dollars. Two tiers of funding, both competitive and non-competitive, are available.

Eligibility Guidelines

Projects must be located on water bodies deep enough for boats 26-feet in length staying overnight from one to up to 15 days, and to navigate at a minimum depth of six feet. Matching funds - a 25 percent minimum is required - may not come from other federal sources, but state, local and private funds can be used to match.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) was instrumental in creating the program in 1998 that is viewed today by local municipalities as an economic development tool to attract cruising boats and related boater spending. To date, over $177 million in grants have been awarded.

BoatUS suggests that if your community, club or marina is interested, take a look at what's possible by seeing a list of projects that received prior grant funding at There's also a helpful link to state BIG administrator contacts.

About BoatUS

BoatUS is the nation¹s largest organization of recreational boaters with over a half million members. We are the boat owners' voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We help ensure a roadside breakdown doesn't end a boating or fishing trip before it begins, and on the water, we bring boaters safely back to the launch ramp or dock when their boat won't, day or night.

The BoatUS Insurance Program gives boat owners the specialized coverage and superior service they need, and we help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the non-profit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit


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