Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Recreational Boating Communities Receive $14 Million to Boost Outdoor Recreation, Create Jobs and Help Keep Our Waterways Clean
Boating Infrastructure Grants for 2016 provide more than 1.1 Million for projects in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii and Guam

March 17, 2016


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced nearly $14 million in grants for projects to support recreational boating through the Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program.  BIG funds are used to construct, renovate and maintain marinas and other facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation. Grantees may also utilize funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

Funding for the BIG program is derived from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and gasoline.  Funding is matched by the states at a rate of $1 for every $3 of federal funds.  The amount provided for the BIG program is 2% of the funds in the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust.

“State agencies and their partners are the backbone to the successes of the BIG program, bringing matching funds to the table to support needed infrastructure projects, like the Eagle Harbor marina on Washington’s Bainbridge Island,” said Pacific Regional Director, Robyn Thorson. “Through the BIG grants program, we strengthen community ties by enhancing access to historic, cultural and natural resources for millions of boat owners and outdoor enthusiasts.”

The BIG grants are broken into two categories.  Tier 1 BIG grants are distributed to the states on a non-competitive basis, with a maximum amount of $200,000 per state. This year, 32 states applied for and received Tier 1 grants, including Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Tier 2 grants are competitive, with a maximum of $1.5 million per grant. This year, Washington will receive $273, 315 with a matching $205, 345 supplied by the state to fund this project

 For more information about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program visit

 “The BIG program is one of many ways we support access and provide quality outdoor opportunities for the nation’s recreational anglers and boaters,” said Assistant Director Hannibal Bolton of the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. “These grants also spur major construction projects, create jobs and provide much-needed economic benefits.”

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) is a 77-year partnership to benefit fish and wildlife and provide Americans with access to the outdoors through a self-imposed investment paid by manufacturers and users of gear bought by anglers, boaters, hunters and shooters and managed by federal and state fish and wildlife agencies. Fishing and hunting licenses and a motorboat fuel tax also support fish and wildlife. For almost eight decades, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program has provided more than $14 billion for fish and wildlife, supplied jobs for many Americans, and benefitted local economies through boating, fishing, hunting and recreational activities like kayaking, canoeing and wildlife photography.

Recreational boats and boat docks share the water with fish and wildlife species critical to the ecology and economy.  Working in the same way that good hunting practices and land stewardship will benefit wildlife, new and repaired boating facilities can benefit aquatic species by keeping waterways clean and supporting revenues to state wildlife agencies through fishing -  a cycle of success. 

For more information about the BIG Tier II projects, visit

BIG Projects by State

In Washington state, the City Dock, located on the shoreline of Eagle Harbor, was awarded $273,315 of BIG Tier 2 competitive grant funds which will replace the existing dock in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.   Total project costs are almost $2 million.  This dock adjoins the City’s Waterfront Park which serves as the front yard for downtown business and is the primary water access point for both residents and visitors.  Central Puget Sound, known as The City Dock, was opened in 1986 with funds by a previous Washington State grant and has been in continuous operation since.  In addition, the state will also receive $196,825 total for the BIG Tier I projects at Port of Paulsbo and at the Port Angeles Boat Haven facility.

Currently, the City Dock is used by all recreational boaters including non-trailerable boats longer than 26 feet.  As the only public dock on an island with over 58 miles of Puget Sound shoreline and a population of over 23,000 residents, this dock is heavily used.  Weather, water and daily use has caused this dock to deteriorate over time.  This grant will provide a new dock that will provide 915 linear feet of mooring space, of which 200 linear feet will be dedicated to non-trailerable vessels greater than 26 feet in length.  New moorage floats will also provide a minimum water depth of over 25 feet for deep-water moorage. The total cost for renovation is slightly more than $2 million.  Of this, $273,000 originates from the BIG program and $205,000 from the state while the remaining $1.68 million will be provided by our partners from the City of Bainbridge. 

The state of Oregon will receive $200,000 in BIG Tier 1 grants that will fund renovation of the Sandy Beach (Schwitter Island) Tie Up Facility pn the Columbia River.  In partnership with Oregon Parks and Recreation and the Oregon State Maine Board will embark on a plan to replace, expand or develop new recreational tie-up facilities. The goal is to have a network of tie-up facilities throughout the state that will benefit non-trailered boaters plying the Pacific Ocean and principal inland waters.

The Sandy Beach Project (aka “Schwitter Landing”) is a transient tie-up facility located on Government Island in the middle of the Columbia River.  This island hosts more than 7,500 visitors every year - and is accessible only by boat.  Oregon State Parks and Recreation  operates and maintains the facilities on the island, including the 800 feet of roadside tie-up space, gangways, composting toilet, pathway and debris boom.

The transient tie-up facility is very popular with cruising boaters who find this island a peaceful retreat in the busy Portland area. It has been referred to by different yacht clubs as “an oasis from the chaos of big city living”. In 2014 the docks were damaged during a storm because the existing log debris boom could not properly deflect the large quantity and size of debris that is commonly associated with the Columbia River. The damaged docks prevented boaters from accessing the upland amenities. State Parks has been pursuing the permit approvals to repair the docks (not part of this request) and replace the existing log boom with a poly-pipe debris deflection boom. The replacement of the existing log boom with a poly-pipe debris deflection boom will protect the existing infrastructure from the large quantity and size of debris associated with the Columbia River.

In Idaho, the Kootenai County Parks and Waterways will use BIG Tier I funds to replace the breakwater near the city of  Harrison.  The existing Kootenai County owned breakwater protects the county’s public marina, a significant amount of shoreline including the City of Harrison and a privately owned marina. The breakwater provides critical moorage for transient recreational vessels that are unable to fit between the stern moorage pilings located inside the marina. Notably, the County’s public marina and breakwater were originally constructed using a combination of state Waterways Improvement Fund Grants and Boating Infrastructure Grants in 2005.

The replacement of the breakwater will significantly increase overnight moorage opportunities for transient vessels by adding additional slip moorage and other boater related amenities not currently offered. The new breakwater will be designed to better accommodate persons with disabilities. The existing structure has exceeded its useful life expectancy and is in immediate need of placement.   The five-hundred and fifteen-foot long by ten-foot wide (515’ X10’) breakwater with a submerged wave attenuation system is constructed from wood and decked with a composite “Trex” type decking.

Through funding this project will add twenty (20) additional stern moorage slips for vessels 26’ and longer. Stern moorage will be accomplished utilizing a double slip configuration that is approximately 40’ long and 35’ wide to accommodate two large vessels per slip.  Other amenities include a new recreational vessel pump-out machine; a new single stall, ADA accessible, floating restroom building; and electrical power pedestal lighting for night time activities to improve visitor safety.  The project will also improve navigation by building the breakwater wider to improve boater safety, accommodate more vessels, and enhance boating related recreational activities.  Improved protection will protect the shoreline from erosion caused by wave action and provide continued protection of the County’s largest public marina and reduce costly maintenance and repairs  by utilizing modern materials and engineering methods.  Installation of a long lasting concrete deck, with heavy duty  marine cleats will secure larger vessels such as cruise boats.  Another benefit of this project will be to provide necessary floatation devices for guests visiting the pier attending annual firework shows, fishing derbies and other boater related recreational activities. 

The Port Authority of Guam will use the BIG Tier 1 funds to renovate the Guam Harbor of Refuge and repair the moorage system in Piti, Guam.  Mariners and recreational boaters in the waters off Guam’s western coast welcome the sight of this natural sheltered harbor, especially in times of inclement weather.  The Harbor of Refuge, located at the eastern end of Piti Channel, is designated area where transient boats may obtain shelter and a safe harbor during storms. The Port Authority of Guam has designated 75% of the moorings at the Harbor of Refuge for transient vessels as its primary purpose, and the remaining space set aside as a safe harbor for all boats seeking shelter.

The typhoon season in the Western Pacific, generally occurs from May through October.  Guam’s distinct location has inspired the area to be called “Typhoon Alley.”  As a result, it is necessary to provide transient boaters with a location for safe harbor, to conduct boat repairs, a port to replenish supplies, a port where business transactions, communications, recreational, and medical assistance can be also obtained.   These grants are essential for providing well repaired moorings, portable (tailorable) pumpout systems for boaters, and to ensure that the facility serves its primary function to provide a safe haven for boaters during periods of inclement weather, especially during typhoons.

Let’s not forget Hawaii – more specifically the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor on Kauai.  Tie-Up Facilities for Transient Vessels heading to Lihue, Kauai have received  Federal BIG Tier 1 funds over the past five years totaling $600,000.  Add that to the $1.1 million provided by the Hawaii’s Department of Boating and Ocean Recreation, this program has provided recreational boaters  (DOBOR) will fund the project totaling $1.7 million.

Our many partners in the State of Hawaii – the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and others manage the State’s Ocean Recreation Program. This program provides facilities for recreational boating, supporting opportunities for ocean activities and by preserving Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources.  The State of Hawaii’s environment, location and climate are conducive to attracting many people to visit and to engage in water-related sports. World Class events such as the Trans Pacific Yacht Race and International Bill Fish Tournament, are staged annually in the islands. Only the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor in Honolulu on the Island of Oahu, provides limited tie-up facilities for transient vessels.

Improvements at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor were funded in part by Boating Infrastructure (BIG) Grant funding and were completed two years ago. With increased affluence and more free time for outdoor recreation, there are increased demands for improved and additional boating facilities through the State of Hawaii. However, limited funds and resources have restricted efforts to implement a boating improvement/expansion program. The State is presently “Hard-pressed” to meet the demands to repair and maintain rapidly aging and deteriorating boating facilities. The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation receives very minimal legislative funding for Capital Improvements and does not receive any general State Funds, but is required to be self-sufficient and must wholly rely on operating and paying of their expenditures from the revenues received from boating and registration fees.  Therefore, the funds provided by the BIG Program will help to develop adequate tie-up facilities within the State of Hawaii.

The objective is to construct one (1) new aluminum floating dock system that could accommodate up to 17 vessels. Of the 17 slips a minimum of 6 slips will be reserved for

transient vessels. The new floating dock system will consist of a 8’ wide main pier section approximately 262 feet long and 5-30’ long finger piers and 2-40’ long finger piers on one side of the main pier. Four (4) vessels will be allowed to “side-tie” to the other side of the main pier. Constructing these tie-up facilities at the Nawiliwili SBH will provide countless opportunities for boaters to travel to Kauai and be assured of being accommodated at adequate berthing facilities.

Transient tie-up facilities will also provide a “haven” for vessels seeking shelter during emergency conditions in the event of a storm. This project will generate new revenue for this island and is consistent with DOBOR’s goal to construct tie-up facilities for transient vessels on all of the major Hawaiian islands.  The new floating dock system will be design and constructed to conform with the 2004 ADAAG.  A minimum of six (6) slips will be reserved for transient vessels. The slips will accommodate up  to six (6) 35 foot long vessels. Water and electrical services will be provided at a nominal charge, or included in the slip rental.

For more information about the BIG Tier II projects, visit

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