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Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program

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

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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

Deadline Date:

04/30/18 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. Facilities will serve recreational transient (defined as a period of 15 days or less) boats that are less than 26 feet in length. Facilities will be available to the general public. Since the focus of the Program is on larger recreational vessels, a minimum of 6 feet mean low water (mlw) is generally required.

Types of funding

There are two levels of funding 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.

Note: 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, such as:
(i) Engineering, economic, environmental, historic, cultural, or feasibility studies or assessments; and
(ii) Planning, permitting, and contracting.

(3) Dredging a channel, boat basin, or other boat passage following the requirements at § 86.15.

(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. Examples of eligible actions include:
(i) Locating BIG-funded facilities on charts and cruising guides;
(ii) Creating Statewide or regional brochures telling boaters about BIG and directing them to BIG-funded facilities;
(iii) Advertising a BIG-funded facility in print or electronic media with the emphasis on BIG, the BIG-funded facility, or services for eligible users, and not on marketing the marina as a whole;
(iv) Marina newsletter articles, marina or agency Web pages, and other communications you produce that are directly related to the BIG-funded project;
(v) Giving boaters information and resources to help them find and use the BIG-funded facility; and
(vi) Public communication.

(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. This includes coordinating and monitoring to ensure BIG-funded facilities are well- constructed, meet project objectives, and serve the intended purpose for their useful life; and to manage BIG grant performance or accomplishments.

(b) You may ask your Regional Office to approve preaward costs for eligible actions. You incur preaward costs at your own risk, as this program will only reimburse you for preaward costs approved if you receive a grant.

(c) 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. A State may require a pumpout be funded through CVA, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number 15.616.

(d) Other actions may qualify for BIG funding, subject to approval, if they achieve the purposes of BIG. This program will describe actions approved and how they are eligible for BIG funding in the full text of the annual Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

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.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

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).

The proposed project area must typically have a minimum 6 feet of water depth (mlw). Although BIG funding may be used for dredging (see §86.15), the Sub-grantee is solely responsible for maintaining the required minimum depth for the useful life of the project at the Sub-grantee’s own expense. The consequence of not being able to maintain this depth is that the Sub-grantee would have to return ALL grant funds to DNR (not just funds used for dredging).

A “Land Control Agreement” (LCA) will be required on any facility except those owned by DNR (which are already bound to the terms of the agreement). A LCA is a legally binding contract that specifies the responsibilities of the recipient for the expected “useful life” of the improvements, which is generally 20-30 years. If a facility is unable or unwilling to comply with all federal/state requirements in the LCA for the project’s useful life, the owner of the facility would have to return all of the grant funding used for the project (with no proration).

Should the facility be privately owned, in addition to an LCA, the owner of the facility would be required to record the receipt of the federal funds and the existence of the LCA in their property’s deed.

Because the intent of the BIG Program is to provide tie-up facilities for recreational transient vessels 26’ or more in length, any anticipated ineligible usage must be explained and the costs for eligible/ineligible usage allocated accordingly.

Pre-Application Information:

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.

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.

It is very important to note that the sample Project Statement was completed using formatting and grant requirements that were in effect prior to the new Final Rule being published. For this reason, it is important to refer to and comply with the new rule. The deadline for submission of the Project Statement and all supporting documentation to DNR is August 31 each year.

Please keep in mind that BIG Tier 2 – National Project Statements may take several months for you to prepare so you may miss the deadline. If so, DNR will submit the application package to FWS the following year.

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
-August 31: Project Statement due if selected for submission to FWS
September/October: DNR Submits applications to FWS, depending on the due date set by FWS
-March/April: FWS announces grant award

Contact Information:

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

Carla Fleming, Director, Boating Implementation Program

Don O’Neill, Grant Specialist

Carla Fleming, Director, Boating Implementation Program
Boating Services Unit
Department of Natural Resources
Tawes Office Building, E-4
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Maryland