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    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, according to a statement from the department. 

    motorboat on river
    The Clean Vessels Act provides funding to communities to build and maintain facilities that help boaters keep rivers and streams clean for outdoor recreation. Courtesy photo

    The funding comes from the Clean Vessels Act and the Boating Infrastructure Grant programs, which provide funding to communities to build and maintain facilities that help boaters keep 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, according to a press release from the department.

    “The boating community plays a crucial role in local economies, and keeping waterways safe, clean and accessible benefits those of us who enjoy being out on the water,” said Bernhardt. “These programs facilitate best practices for boaters, and they serve as great examples of the department’s commitment to working with stakeholders to improve infrastructure and support conservation.” 

    “Summer is here, and Americans are looking forward to enjoying boating and fishing,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Local economies, people who love the outdoors, and wildlife and natural resources all benefit when these outdoor opportunities are easy to access and help protect the health of our waterways.”

    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. Utah will receive several hundred thousand dollars. CVA grants provide much-needed funding to communities to build and maintain facilities that help boaters keep our rivers and streams clean, said the press release. Pump-out systems built or purchased with these funds ensure that recreational boaters have a safe, convenient and effective method to dispose of on-board sewage. The funds also support associated boater education programs. Since the program’s inception in 1993, the service has allocated more than $296 million in CVA grants to states and territories, according to the statement.

    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.

    Since the program’s inception in 1993, more than $296 million in CVA grants has been allocated to states and territories, according to the department.

    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, according to the department.

    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, according to the Department.

    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, according to the department.

    “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 John Sprague, governmental affairs chair for the Marine Industries Association of Florida. “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.”

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