Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced $32.8 million in grants – with an additional non-federal match of $21.9 million – for states and communities to support outdoor recreation and help boaters keep America’s waters clean. The funding comes from the Clean Vessels Act (CVA) program and the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program which provide much-needed funding to communities to build and maintain facilities that help boaters keep our rivers and streams clean; and construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other boating facilities for outdoor recreation.
The Trump administration has distributed more than $129 million from these programs since 2017; which has leveraged an additional $83 million in non-federal funding to provide a total of $212 million toward infrastructure projects benefiting recreational boaters.
“The boating community plays a crucial role in local economies, and keeping waterways safe, clean and accessible benefits anglers, other recreationists and wildlife,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “These programs facilitate responsible boater behavior, make substantial contributions to local economies and are great examples of the Department’s commitment to working with state and local partners to improve infrastructure and support conservation efforts.”
“Summer is here, and Americans are looking forward to enjoying boating and fishing,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Everyone -- local economies, people who love the outdoors, and wildlife and natural resources – wins when these outdoor opportunities are easy to access and help protect the health of our waterways.”
“Recreational boating is enjoyed by millions of Americans each year, generating significant economic benefits for communities across the country – contributions that will be especially important as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association Frank Hugelmeyer. “These programs – which receive most of their funding from the recreational boating and fishing community – help ensure we have clean waterways, healthy aquatic ecosystems and robust access to our nation’s public waters and we thank the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for being responsible stewards of the initiatives.”
In FY 2020, 23 states will receive a total of $19.3 million in federal assistance from the CVA program to keep local waterways healthy. CVA grants provide much-needed funding to communities to build and maintain facilities that help boaters keep our rivers and streams clean. Pump-out systems built or purchased with these funds ensure recreational boaters have a safe, convenient and effective method to dispose of on-board sewage. The funds also support associated boater education programs.
The CVA program’s support through the user-pay-public-benefit cycle has contributed to the success of the Sport Fish Restoration program. States can apply for CVA funding, and they or their partners provide matching funds to complete projects. Sub-grantees often include local municipalities and private marinas. These partnership efforts are a win-win for clean water and the many families who enjoy recreational boating and the great outdoors.
Since the program’s inception in 1993, more than $296 million in CVA grants has been allocated to states and territories.
Grantees use BIG funds to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 15 days or less), that are 26 feet or more in length, and are used for recreation. Grantees may also use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.
Under the BIG program, a total of $13.5 million in grants to states will support projects related to recreational boating; $10.4 million will be awarded competitively for 13 projects in 10 states under the BIG Tier II subprogram, while more than $3.1 million will fund 23 projects in 19 states under the BIG Tier I subprogram.
Since its inception in 2000, the BIG program has awarded $228 million to projects for large transient recreational boats, including funding the construction of more than 6,000 berths and other amenities benefiting boaters across most states and U.S. territories.
“The movement of recreational boats, whether from town to town or state to state, is essential to our industry and local economies and the recreational enjoyment of the waters of our country by the boating and fishing public,” said Governmental Affairs Chair for the Marine Industries Association of Florida John Sprague. "The Boating Infrastructure Grant and Clean Vessel Act Grant programs administered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provide critical funds that are leveraged by states and the private sector to build and maintain the infrastructure that supports the travels of transient boaters in Florida and across the nation."
“The Clean Vessel Act and Boating Infrastructure Grants are wonderful examples of how boaters support both the environment and the economy,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston. “The funds going into these programs come in large part from boaters, so it’s great to see the money being returned to help improve infrastructure and access for recreational boating. BoatUS has long been a champion of these programs, and we look forward to their continuation for years to come.”
Funding for the CVA and BIG programs comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Boaters and manufacturers contribute to the trust fund through excise taxes and duties on certain fishing and boating equipment and boating fuels.