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Grants to Maryland For-Profits and Agencies for Recreational Boat Docking Facilities

Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)


Agency: State

GrantWatch ID #138503

Grant Description

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Grants to Maryland marinas and government agencies for the maintenance, renovation, or construction of boat docking facilities and accessories. Funding is intended for facilities that are open to the public and that serve vessels requiring short stays. Eligible recreational boats are at least 26 feet in length and require a stay of 15 days or less. Since the focus of the Program is on larger recreational vessels, a minimum of 6 feet mean low water (mlw) is generally required. The purpose of the program is to enable the owners of large recreational vessels to visit popular boating destinations that they might not otherwise have access to.

Two levels of funding are available: “BIG Tier 1 – State” and “BIG Tier 2 – National”:  

  • BIG Tier 1: State grants are non-competitive on a federal level.  In other words, DNR does not need to compete with other states in order to receive $200,000 in BIG Tier 1 - State funding each year.  However, BIG Tier 1 - State funding may be competitive within the state if more than one facility in Maryland is seeking BIG Tier 1 - State funding.     
  • BIG Tier 2 - National grants are available on a nationally competitive basis.  BIG Tier 2 – National grants are highly competitive so, in order to improve the chances that a particular project will be selected for funding, the funding proposal should be much more in depth and provide much more justification than a BIG Tier 1 - State proposal.

The following actions are eligible for BIG funding if they are for eligible users or eligible vessels:

(1) Construct, renovate, or maintain publicly or privately owned boating infrastructure following the requirements at § 86.13. This may include limited repair or restoration of roads, parking lots, walkways, and other surface areas damaged as a direct result of BIG-funded construction. 

(2) Conduct actions necessary to construct boating infrastructure.  

(3) Dredging a channel, boat basin, or other boat passage following requirements.

(4) Install navigational aids to give transient vessels safe passage between a facility and navigable channels or open water.

(5) Produce information and education materials specific to BIG or a BIG-funded project and that credit BIG as a source of funding when appropriate. 

(6) Record the Federal interest in the real property.

(7) Use BIG Tier 1—State grant awards to administer BIG Tier 1—State and BIG Tier 2—National grants, or grant programs, Statewide. 

For additional information about eligible activities, see: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-50/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-86/subpart-B/section-86.11

Applicants may seek funding for installing pumpout facilities through the Clean Vessel Act Grant Program (CVA) instead of including the cost as part of a BIG grant application. Other actions may qualify for BIG funding, subject to approval, if they achieve the purposes of BIG. 

For Key BIG Sub-grantee Requirements, see: https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Documents/BIG-ProgramManualDecember.pdf#page=3

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Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The Department encourages local units of government and private marinas/facilities to participate in this program by submitting grant applications to the Department for eligible transient facilities.

Marinas and facilities requiring membership to access are generally not qualified to apply unless the charter is changed to allow access to the general boating public.

Ineligible for BIG funding: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-50/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-86/subpart-B/section-86.16

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due by April 30 each year. Electronic submission is preferred.

Anticipated Program Timeline:
- April 30: State Preliminary Applications due by 4:00 p.m.
- May/June: The Department conducts site visits (if needed), applications review, etc.
- July: The Department informs the applicant(s) whether the project(s) is selected for submission to FWS.
- August 31: Complete Project Statement with supporting documents due from the sub-grantee(s) whose project(s) have been selected.
- September: The Department Submits grant applications to FWS via GrantSolutions, depending on the due date set by FWS
- March/April of the following year: FWS announces applications selected for funding.
- May/June of the following year: The Department begins working with the sub-grantee(s) to get the grant conditionally approved by FWS and execute the MOU and the LCA.

Once the Preliminary Application is received, Program staff will contact the applicant for a site visit if needed. A site visit will help the Department understand what the applicant is interested in doing as well as the situation at the facility. The Department may conduct a bathymetric survey to verify the water depth requirement (6’ mlw) during the site visit.

Program staff will review the applications and make selection(s) of which project(s) will be submitted to FWS for possible BIG funding. Upon being informed that your project is up for further consideration, the applicant should begin work on putting together a Project Statement as detailed in the annual Notice of Funding Opportunity (typically published by FWS each May). The deadline for submission of the Project Statement and all supporting documentation to the Department is August 31 each year or earlier as notified.

If you miss the deadline for submitting the Project Statement for a potential BIG Tier 1 – State grant, the Department will consider submitting the project to FWS the following year but, because only $200,000 per year in BIG Tier 1 – State funding is available, your project will be considered along with any others that may be submitted so there is no guarantee that your project will be selected.

The BIG Program is a reimbursement grant program.

All matching funds (minimum 25%) must come from non-federal sources.

Big Final rules: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=829bacb99dedf2f1ff5347e2159c614c&mc=true&node=pt50.9.86&rgn=div5

What is eligible for BIG funding? https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Pages/what-is-eligible-for-big-funding.aspx
Who can apply? https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Pages/who-can-apply.aspx
How to apply? https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Pages/how-to-apply.aspx
What are the long term commitments for receiving BIG funding? https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Pages/big-long-term-commitments.aspx
Forms and Sample Documents: https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Pages/forms-and-sample-documents.aspx
Additional resources: https://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/Pages/additional-resources.aspx
§86.11 (eligible): https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-50/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-86/subpart-B/section-86.11
§86.16 (ineligible): https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-50/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-86/subpart-B/section-86.16

Additional Funding Information:

Estimated Size of Grant:

- BIG Tier 1: State grants provide up to $200,000 federal funds.
- BIG Tier 2 - National grants provide up to $1.5 million in federal funds per project.

Contact Information:

Submit Preliminary Application Form and supporting documents to:
Li Lan Carson, Federal Projects Lead
Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Department of Natural Resources
Tawes Office Building, E-2
580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: 410-260-8452,
lilan.carson@maryland.gov

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