Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Interior grant programs provide $3.56 million to benefit recreational boaters, local waterways and communities in California

June 25, 2020


Robyn Gerstenslager,

SACRAMENTO, California Boaters, anglers, communities and aquatic life in California will reap benefits from nearly $4 million in grant funds, thanks to two U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs focusing on ensuring clean water and recreational access. Funding to states under the Service’s Clean Vessel Act and Boating Infrastructure Grant programs total over $32 million nationwide in 2020.

California will receive $2,327,750 in CVA funding to keep local waterways healthy and $1,233,473 under the BIG program. Partners will provide an additional $411,157 in non-federal matching funds toward BIG projects and $776,917 in non-federal matching funds toward CVA projects.

“The boating community plays a crucial role in local economies, and keeping waterways safe, clean and accessible to benefits anglers, other recreationists and wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “These programs facilitate responsible boater behavior, make substantial contributions to local economies, and are great examples of the Department’s commitment to working with state and local partners to improve infrastructure and support conservation efforts.”

“Summer is almost here, and Americans are looking forward to enjoying boating and fishing,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Everyone -- local economies, people who love the outdoors, and wildlife and natural resources – wins when these outdoor opportunities are easy to access and help protect the health of our waterways.”

Clean Vessel Act grants provide much-needed funding to communities to build and maintain facilities that help boaters keep our rivers and streams clean. Pump-out systems built or purchased with these funds ensure recreational boaters have a safe, convenient and effective method to dispose of on-board sewage. The funds also support associated boater education programs. Since the program’s inception in 1993, the Service has allocated more than $296 million in CVA grants to states and territories.

Past CVA funding allowed for California State Parks and Recreation Division of Boating and Waterways to provide floating restrooms on reservoirs throughout the state. The floating stations are routinely pumped out, keeping waste out of water supplies. DBW also installed pump-out stations at marinas where boats with sanitary facilities can transfer waste to shore-based treatment facilities. This keeps our inlets, bays, and oceans clean.

The state also uses these monies to inform boaters about facility locations and how to safely use them. Working with partners like the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, a cell phone app, Pumpout Nav, is now available to boaters to help them find the closest sewage pump-out station, floating restroom or portable toilet dump station. The app is so successful other states are adopting it as well.

The CVA program’s support through the user-pay-public-benefit cycle has contributed to the success of the Sport Fish Restoration program. States can apply for CVA funding, and they or their partners provide matching funds to complete projects. Sub-grantees often include local municipalities and private marinas. These partnership efforts are a win-win for clean water and the many families who enjoy recreational boating and the great outdoors.

Grantees use BIG funds to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 15 days or less), that are 26 feet or more in length, and are used for recreation. Grantees may also use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating. Since its inception in 2000, the BIG program has awarded $228 million to projects, including funding the construction of more than 6,000 berths and other amenities benefitting boaters across most states and U.S. territories.

“For over 60 years, DBW, with assistance from CVA and Sport Fish Restoration funds, has improved and safeguarded the boating experience for all users – with investments in recreational boating improvements from Mission Bay in San Diego to the crystal clear water of Lake Tahoe and along lakes, rivers and streams in between,” said DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Together, we have responsibly developed new facilities while protecting our precious resources.”

The City of Rio Vista’s guest dock is an example of a past BIG-funded project. DBW supported the City of Rio Vista’s efforts to replace a deteriorated dock for transient, non-trailerable recreational vessels. The new gangway is Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant and the 120-feet long floating dock provides six tie-offs for eligible vessels on the Sacramento River. The dock, located at the foot of Main Street, is the only access for non-trailerable boats to Rio Vista, increasing opportunities for transient boaters to visit and enjoy the scenic central San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta area.

Current BIG-funded projects in California include the Oceanside Harbor in Oceanside, where the DBW will partner with the Oceanside Harbor District to add seven 38-foot slips and increase the end tie from 42 to 80-feet long.

In San Mateo Harbor in El Granada the DBW will partner with the San Mateo County Harbor District to replace the wooden dock with a floating concrete dock with six slips dedicated for transient vessels. The slips will include hookups for up to 50amp electrical service.

And in San Luis Obispo County the Port San Luis Harbor District will partner with the DBW to repair the fixed boater landing at the Avila Pier to restore transient boater access. Funding will also be used to repair the storm-damaged pier by replacing pier piles, decking, caps, railings and stringers.

Funding for the BIG and CVA programs comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Boaters and manufacturers contribute to the trust fund through excise taxes and duties on certain fishing and boating equipment and boating fuels.

More information regarding the 2020 CVA grant awards can be found here. More information about the CVA program can be found here.

More information regarding the 2020 BIG grant awards can be found here. More information about the BIG program can be found here.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.



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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