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Port of Dubuque Marina Received Largest Boating Infrastructure Grant in History

The city of Dubuque celebrated the grand-opening of the Port of Dubuque Marina with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 1.
Photo Credit: City of Dubuque
The city of Dubuque celebrated the grand-opening of the Port of Dubuque Marina with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 1.
Photo Credit: City of Dubuque

On June 1, 2013 the city of Dubuque unveiled its freshly completed Port of Dubuque Marina Project with a public ribbon cutting event. The Port of Dubuque Marina features 70 transient slips for boats of greater than 26 ft. along the shores of the Mississippi River. The ribbon cutting ceremony was also hosted by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium to celebrate the opening of the Museum’s Mississippi Plaza in conjunction with the grand-opening of the marina.

The marina project was supported by the Boating and Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the city of Dubuque. Dubuque received a BIG grant of $3,037,802 for the project making it the largest grant ever awarded to a public or private entity under the BIG program. The project totaled $4.1 million with the city of Dubuque committing $1,088,950 of local funds to the project.

Each state in the U.S. receives a baseline amount of grant funding from the BIG Program called Tier I funding. In addition to that, private or public entities can apply for additional funding through the BIG Tier II competitive grants. The city of Dubuque submitted an application for the Tier II competitive grant, which they received in 2006 for this project. The project has been in the works since then and was completed in time for the 2013 boating season.

The Port of Dubuque is well stocked with amenities for recreational boaters including water and electrical connections, a fuel dock, sanitary pump-out facilities, and two shore entry/exit locations with ADA-compliant access. In addition, there are dockside shower suites, restrooms, a laundry facility, and a ship store.

The Marina is part of America’s River Project, which was launched through a partnership between the city, the state, and private enterprises. The project aims to create the finest tourism attraction along the Mississippi River. The Port is bordered by Dove Harbor to the north, which is fairly industrial and Ice Harbor to the south, which is home to much of the recreation on the river. The Port of Dubuque Marina will be the gateway to America’s River Project which hosts several major tourism components along the harbor including an aquarium, a resort and waterpark, a brewery, and two casinos, among others.

Dubuque is expecting that the addition of this marina will generate many local, regional, and national benefits, both recreationally and economically. A study conducted by the city found that existing private marinas were not meeting demand for the transient boat community along the Mississippi. In addition, the Iowa Welcome Center in Dubuque had been receiving 20-30 requests each month in the summer for a transient boating facility. The city expects that the development of this marina along America’s River Project ¬†will attract visitor markets from the markets of Chicago and Milwaukee, encourage more transient boating opportunities along the river, and strengthen Dubuque’s tourism industry as it is estimated that the marina would be filled 10-12 weeks in the summer.

The BIG Program is managed through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program efficiently and effectively administers grant programs and works with fish and wildlife agencies in a mutually responsible, cooperative and creative grant partnership to protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and habitat resources for present and future public benefit.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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