During a ceremony yesterday in Yorktown, Va., United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke shared a $14.7 million check with BoatUS vice-resident Heather Lougheed, who accepted on behalf of America’s recreational boaters. The news was announced in a press release from BoatUS, which is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boat owners.
From left: Government Affairs Program coordinator Morgan Neuhoff, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, BoatUS vice-president of Public Affairs Scott Croft, and BoatUS vice-president of Membership Heather Lougheed.
“These three grant programs provide critical support to local communities, whether through the preservation of American maritime heritage or by ensuring the facilities and waters anglers and boaters depends on are in the best condition,” said Zinke in the release. “Although these grants come from different funding sources, none would be possible without great partnerships.”
The $14.7 million figure represents 2017-2018 funding for the federal Boating Infrastructure Grant (B.I.G.) program, which funnels user taxes paid by boaters to develop transient boating projects. According to the release, BoatUS was instrumental in creating the program in 1998 that is viewed today by local municipalities as an economic-development tool to attract overnight-boater spending.
The B.I.G. program recognizes that transient boaters offer economic benefits and add to the vitality of waterfront communities, marinas and boat clubs, according to the release. Funds go to construct, renovate or maintain transient-boater facilities, including docks, moorings, restrooms (including floating facilities), fuel docks, electricity, water and sewage utilities, recycling and pump-out stations, and potentially small dredging projects.
“If you want boaters to visit and spend in your town, safe protected overnight dockage with electricity and water service connections are a must,” said Scott Croft, BoatUS’ vice-president of Public Affairs, in the release. “BoatUS is proud to play an important role in providing funding for these boating access improvements to communities across America.”
To date, more than $180 million has been awarded. Funding for the competitive B.I.G. 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, while U.S. Fish and Wildlife administers the funds, the release stated.