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Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program

Grants to Maryland Nonprofits, For-Profits, Agencies,
and IHEs for Recreational Boating Tie-Up Facilities

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Funding Source:

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

Deadline Date:

04/30/21 4:00 PM


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Grants to Maryland nonprofits, for-profits, government agencies, and IHEs for the construction, maintenance, or renovation of boating tie-up facilities and accessories. Funding is intended for facilities that are open to the public and that serve transient (defined as a period of 15 days or less) recreational boats that are at least 26 feet in length. Because BIG-funded facilities accommodate larger vessels, the proposed project area typically must have a minimum of 6 feet of water depth (mlw). 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 noncompetitive 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 the Rules document in Pre-Application Information, below.

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 eligible project components, see:

For Key BIG Sub-grantee Requirements, see:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 138503

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.

Term of Contract:

- The Fund must obligate a grant within 3 Federal fiscal years of the beginning of the Federal fiscal award year.
- The Fund will work with applicants to set a start date within the 3-year period of obligation. They assign a period of performance that is no longer than 3 years from the grant start date.
- Applicants must complete projects within the period of performance unless they ask for and receive a grant extension.
- Extensions may be approved up to two years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The department encourages local jurisdictions and private facilities to participate in this program by submitting grant applications to the department for eligible transient facilities.

For the Federal grant program, one agency in each eligible State may apply for a BIG grant if authorized to do so by:
(a) A statute or regulation of the eligible jurisdiction;
(b) The Governor of the State, Commonwealth, or territory; or
(c) The Mayor of the District of Columbia.

Eligible Site Owners:
(a) You or another entity approved by us must own or have a legal right to operate the site of a BIG-funded facility. If you are not the owner, you must be able to show, before we approve your grant, that your contractual arrangements with the owner of the site will ensure that the owner will use the BIG-funded facility for its authorized purpose for its useful life.
(b) Subgrantees or concessioners may be a local or tribal government, a nonprofit organization, a commercial enterprise, an institution of higher education, or a State agency other than the agency receiving the grant.
(c) Subgrantees that are commercial enterprises are subject to 2 CFR part 200, subparts A through D, for grant administrative requirements.

The Sub-grantees must own or have long-term irrevocable control of the project area and rights of way to and from the project area for the useful life of the project (typically 20-30 years).

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due by April 30 each year.

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

DNR 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. The deadline for submission of the Project Statement and all supporting documentation to DNR is August 31 each year.

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 USFWS 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.

Once FWS approves a project for funding, DNR will send a letter of award to the applicant.

Anticipated Program Timeline:
-April 30: Applications due by 4:00 PM
-May/June: Site visits
-July: The department informs applicants if projects are selected for submission to USFWS
-August 31: Project Statement due from the sub-grantee(s) whose project(s) have been selected.
September: The Department Submits grant applications to USFWS via, depending on the due date set by USFWS
-March/April: USFWS announces grant award
May/June: The Department begins working with the subgrantee to execute the MOU and the LCA.

The BIG Program is a reimbursement grant program. Federal funds can be used to cover up to 75% of the approved project costs. The remaining “matching” funds must come from state, local, or other non-federal sources. State funds may possibly be used as match for publicly owned facilities, but state funds cannot be used as match at privately owned marinas, even if the marinas are open to the general public. Privately owned marinas must either provide their own match or find non-state/federal partners.

Big Final rules:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit applications to:
Li Lan Carson, Federal Projects Lead
Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Department of Natural Resources
Tawes Office Building, E-4
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401


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