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Recreational Boating Facilities Grants

Grants to Wisconsin Local Governments and Lake
Associations to Develop Facilities for Recreational Boats

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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Grants to Wisconsin local government agencies and qualified lake associations to develop recreational boating facilities. Funding may be requested for feasibility studies, construction projects, the repair or improvement of locks, rehabilitation, navigation aids, weed harvesting equipment, trash skimming equipment, channel dredging, and invasive species removal.

Feasibility Studies:

Feasibility studies are an investigation of the environmental, economic, and engineering aspects of a recreational boating facility project to determine if the project may be successfully carried out. The desired product of this study is to learn if any physical or economic barriers exist which would prevent the project from being built.

Studies covering items such as the anticipated use of a facility, benefits to be derived from its operation, costs of development and maintenance, and investigation of other funding sources will aid in the assessment of the economics of a potential project.

Engineering studies may be conducted to select a site for a recreational boating facility project, to determine appropriate structures to provide safe water conditions, and to learn if the site is physically suited for development.

Construction Projects:

1. Facilities such as ramps and boarding docks required to gain access to water.

2. Structures such as bulkheads and breakwaters necessary to provide safe water conditions.
dules on the open market.

3. Activities such as dredging to provide safe water depths. Dredging of basins is an eligible activity only when it is associated with project development.

4. Support facilities include parking lots and signage, sanitary facilities, fencing and security lighting for the convenience of boaters.

Items eligible for construction funding include; site surveys, site planning, preparation of cost estimates, engineering studies, preparation of working drawings, construction plans and specifications, supervision and inspections. Expenditures for engineering or planning costs necessary to develop a proposal for Commission review made prior to entering a project agreement may be reimbursed by the department. Also eligible are the costs of site preparation, construction materials, construction equipment rental and demolition.

Improvement and Repair of Locks:

Funding is available for the cost of improvement and repair of locks and facilities that provide access between waterways for operators of recreational watercrafts.


Funding is available for the rehabilitation of capital improvements that are related to recreational boating facilities.

Navigation Aids:

The cost of aids to navigation and regulatory markers, including the cost of appropriate ground tackle is eligible for cost sharing assistance.

Please Note: Because of the relationship of navigation aids to the health, safety and welfare of the boating public, expenditures for navigation aids and regulatory markers made prior to entering a project agreement may be reimbursed by the department.

Weed Harvesting Equipment:

Acquisition of capital equipment that is necessary to cut and remove aquatic plants that are aquatic nuisances or that are detrimental to fish habitat. Eligible capital equipment will be limited to cutting devices, barges with propelling motors, conveyors and trailering devices.

Trash Skimming Equipment:

Acquisition for capital equipment to collect and remove floating trash and debris from a waterway. Eligible capital equipment will be limited to collecting devices, barges with propelling motors, conveyors and trailering devices.

Acquisition is eligible only when the sponsor has a Department approved management plan to cut and remove aquatic plants.

Channel Dredging - Inland Sponsors Only:

Dredging of a channel of a waterway to the degree necessary to accommodate recreational watercraft. Eligible costs of dredging a channel in a waterway include: engineering, including soil borings; dredging and mobilization; construction of a temporary holding area; and transportation of dredge spoils. The cost of constructing revetments to permanently contain spoils is eligible if the sponsor can demonstrate that the cost of creating a land mass is less than the cost of transportation of spoils to a disposal site or if a substantial benefit to the recreational boating public will accrue.

Chemical Treatment for the Removal of Eurasion Water Milfoil:

The cost of chemicals and the application to chemically remove Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM).

Please Note: The Commission cannot consider a request for chemical treatment for the removal of EWM until the sponsor has obtained the necessary permit under s.281.17(2) Stats.

The Program in General:

Facilities developed with assistance from the program must be operated and maintained in such a manner as to provide a safe and attractive environment for the user and open to the general public on a full and equal basis.

Fees charged to users of recreational boating facilities are to be reasonable and consistent with the provisions of Chapter NR 1.91, Wisconsin Administrative Code.

Sites to be developed with recreational boating facilities funds must be owned in fee simple by the sponsor or the sponsor must hold a lease or easement for the site. The length of lease or easement can not be less than 20 years and must include the right to construct, operate and maintain a recreational boating facility. The amount of assistance given to develop property under easement or lease must be commensurate with the control and tenure of the property.

Sites receiving assistance with recreational boating funds must have public access that is accessible or will become accessible as a result of the proposed project, i.e. launch ramp will be supported by an accessible boarding dock not less than 5 feet in width.

Facilities developed with assistance from the program are not to be converted to any other use without prior approval by the Department.

The following factors are considered in establishing priorities for projects.
-Distance of proposed project from other recreational boating facilities
-Demand for safe boating facilities
-Existing facilities
-Projects underway
-Commitment of funds
-Location of proposed project with the region identified in s. 25.29(7)(a), Wis. Stats, which includes: Manitowoc, Calumet, Winnebago, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Rock and Outagamie Counties.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 164651

Estimated Size of Grant:

Chemical Treatment for Eurasian Water Milfoil: Currently there is a $75,000 cap per year on cost sharing for all chemical treatment of Eurasian Water Milfoil projects.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Governmental units and qualified lake associations are eligible to participate in the recreational boating facilities program.

Chapter 30.92, Wisconsin Statutes, defines governmental units as; cities, towns, counties, a town sanitary district, a public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district organized under ch. 33. The Milwaukee River Revitalization Council, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, the Fox River Management Commission, or any other local governmental unit, as defined in s. 66.299(1), that is established for the purpose of lake management. Chapter 30.92 also sets up criteria for lake associations to be considered a qualified lake association.

Recreational boating facilities funds may not be used for any of the following:
-With the exception of expenditures for engineering or planning costs necessary to develop a construction project for Commission review or the acquisition of navigation aids, costs incurred prior to the signed contract approval by the department.
-Maintenance dredging of basins
-The costs of repairing, moving or removing aids to navigation or
regulatory markers.
-The cost of acquiring land associated with the project and construction of facilities commonly used to berth boats, e.g., finger piers for seasonal dockage.
-Any costs related to planning, engineering, dredging, handling, processing, transporting or depositing of contaminated dredge spoils; the purchase of land rights for a spoils deposition area or the cost of landfill storage of spoils; costs of land treatment to cover up a spoils deposit; and the cost of testing or monitoring as a condition of a state or federal permit.
-The cost of operation and maintenance of a lock, launch ramp or harbor of refuge.
-Ceremonial and publicity expenses, bonus payments, charges in excess of the lowest bid, interest expense, charges incurred contrary to the policies and practices of the applicant, damage judgments arising out of the construction of a facility, costs of discounts not taken, and fees paid to legal counsel.
-Pre-and post-treatment monitoring, information and education materials, preparation of aquatic plant management plans, spraying equipment or protection equipment.

Pre-Application Information:

Eligible sponsors may receive a grant for up to 50% of the total eligible cost for a recreational boating facility project. Sponsors are encouraged to match recreational boating facilities funds with other state, federal and local funds.

The Commission may increase the cost share rate from 50% to 80% if it determines that the project is of statewide or regional significance and the project meets the necessary criteria.

The Commission may approve an additional 10% cost sharing for a construction or dredging project if the proposal meets the necessary criteria.

The total amount of assistance from the recreational boating facilities program and other state or federal funds for projects on lands owned by the department or for which the department has entered an agreement or lease with a governmental unit or qualified lake association to develop and maintain a recreational boating facility may not exceed 90% of the total eligible project costs.

Applicants are advised to start planning the project early and communicate with their regional community services specialist often about the project goals. Before rushing out and applying for a grant, spend some time discussing needs, goals and expectations with the boating and lake community.

Prior to project review by the Waterways Commission, the governmental unit or qualified lake association must have obtained all necessary Chapter 30 or 281, Wisconsin Statutes, or NR 5, Wis. Adm. Code, permits required by the department.

Applications are accepted at any time. A five-member Waterways Commission, appointed by the governor, reviews and recommends projects for funding. Deadlines are established quarterly.

-June 1, 2017 for consideration at the August 8, 2017 meeting
-November 1, 2017 for consideration at the January 9, 2018 meeting
-February 1, 2018 for consideration at the April 10, 2018 meeting*

*The April 10, 2018 meeting will only be held if funding is still available. Contact your Grants Specialist after January 10, 2018 to verify.

Except for project advances and navigation aid projects, claims for payment will be on a reimbursement basis.

The conservation fund state legislation may be viewed here:

Contact Information:

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

For recreational boating information, contact the appropriate community services specialist:

North Region - Spooner Office (Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, and Washburn Counties):

Ed Slaminski
810 W. Maple Street
Spooner, WI 54801
(715) 635-4130

North Region - Rhinelander Office (Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Taylor, and Vilas Counties)

Ann Loechler
1341 2nd Avenue, Box 397
Cumberland, WI 54829
(715) 822-2758

West Central Region (Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon Wood Counties):

Bruce Neeb
1300 Clairemont Ave.
P.O. Box 4001
Eau Claire, 54702
(715) 839-3713

Northeast Region (Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, and Winnebago Counties):

Chris Halbur
2984 Shawano Ave.
P.O. Box 104448
Green Bay, 54307
(920) 662-5121

South Central Region (Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Richland, Rock, and Sauk Counties):

Renee Sanford
3911 Fish Hatchery Rd
Fitchburg WI 53711
(608) 275-3213

Southeast Region (Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha Counties)

Kathleen Wolski
2300 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
Milwaukee WI 53212
(414) 263-8670

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Wisconsin