The Boating Infrastructure Grant Program (BIG) is a federal grant program, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that provides funding to states for the construction, renovation, and maintenance of boating infrastructure facilities for transient recreational vessels at least 26 feet long that are operated, leased, rented, or chartered primarily for pleasure.
Applicants may propose to construct new boating infrastructure and supporting facilities where none existed before, or propose a major renovation to existing infrastructure. Applicants may also propose facility maintenance activities if it directly benefits eligible users and is directly related to the proposed project.
Boating infrastructure means the structures, equipment, accessories, and services that are necessary or desirable for a facility to accommodate eligible vessels. Transient vessels are those passing through or by a place, staying up to 15 days. Projects completed using BIG funds must provide public access, but may be publicly or privately owned.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is the lead agency for BIG in North Carolina. Through partnerships with other state agencies, local governments, non-profit organizations, and private marinas, the division provides funding for transient boating infrastructure and amenities.
The Sportfishing and Boating Safety Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-178) established the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program by amending the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act (16 U.S.C. 777g-l). Subsequent reauthorizations of the Act allow expenditures from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and the continuation of the BIG Program. The monies within this Trust Fund are derived from excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, import duties, and interest earned on the Fund.
Examples of potentially eligible activities include, but are not limited to:
- Boat slips, piers, mooring buoys, dinghy docks, gangways
- Restrooms, showers, laundry facilities
- Dockside utility services (water, electricity, Internet)
- Fuel stations
- Floating or fixed breakwaters, retaining walls, bulkheads
- Planning, permitting, engineering services
Examples of ineligible activities include, but are not limited to:
- Commercial vessel infrastructure
- Tie-up facilities not open to the public
- Haul-out features
- Dry-land storage
- Law enforcement activities
- Acquisition of land or interest in land
- Services or structures for food, retail, lodging or facility administration (exp. ship’s store and dockmaster’s office)
Since 2002, the NCDENR Division of Marine Fisheries has been awarded almost $2.9 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Boating Infrastructure Grant Program. North Carolina has received 15 Tier 1 grant awards and has successfully competed for 6 Tier 2 grant awards. These awards have and may result in 21 projects in 11 coastal counties, totaling more than $3.5 million in improvements for transient boaters. Funds have been provided to 12 local municipalities, one state agency, one university and six private businesses. To date, 20 projects have been completed, providing 131 transient slips/moorings and amenities across the coast. One project is currently underway; once completed, an additional 20 transient slips and amenities will be constructed.
|Year||NC BIG Recipient||Tier 1||Tier 2|
|2002||City of Wilmington||$40,000|
|2004||Town of Beaufort||$82, 530|
|2006||North Carolina Maritime Museum (Beaufort)||$68,555|
|Sea Gate Marina (Newport)||$13,560|
|2007||Downtown Morehead City Revitalization Association||$310,268|
|Homer’s Point Marina and Seafood (Salter Path)||$40,200|
|Paradise Cove Marina (Merritt)||$59,800|
|City of Washington||$50,389|
|2008||City of Wilmington||$39,723|
|Sea Gate Marina (Newport)||$37,059|
|Town of Belhaven||$150,015|
|2009||Town of Carolina Beach||$39,767|
|Mid-Atlantic Christian University (Elizabeth City)||$42,283|
|Downtown Morehead City Revitalization Association||$504,360**|
|Town of Plymouth||$106,000|
|Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corp. (New Bern)||$646,650**|
|2010||Cypress Cove Marina (Columbia)||$57,150**|
|2011||City of Washington||$50,000|
|Town of Columbia||$50,000|
|2012||Town of Swansboro||$100,000|
|2013||Town of Hertford||$35,407|
|2014||Town of Holden Beach||$100,000|
|2017||Alligator River Marina||$149,723*|
|TOTAL FUNDING AWARDED||$1,008,607||$616,672|
|*Projects are on-going. Amounts represent the total award.
** Project was cancelled. Amounts not included in total.
***Project is pending an award from the USFWS.
Current Funding Opportunities
The BIG Program has two funding levels:
Tier 1 - State
Each year, the division seeks proposals for eligible projects totaling up to $300,000. Proposals are reviewed and ranked at the state level. Applicants should demonstrate the need for their project in N.C., and their ability to successfully complete and manage the project. The division may request funding for multiple Tier 1 projects; however, the total annual request cannot exceed $300,000. It is not uncommon for more than one project to be funded in a given year.
Tier 2 - National
BIG Tier 2 awards are a result of a national funding competition based solely on individual merit. Tier 2 projects are those totaling greater than $300,000 and typically range up to $1.5 million. Approximately $12 million is available annually for projects across the nation. Each year, Tier 2 proposals submitted to the division are reviewed and scored against ranking criteria used in the national competition. Complete proposals that meet program requirements, demonstrate a need in North Carolina, leverage existing facilities or matching funds, demonstrate an ability to successfully complete the project and are cost efficient are likely to be submitted to the USFWS national funding competition. These proposals are then reviewed, evaluated and ranked by a national panel with the final decision for funding made by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The maximum federal cost-share for BIG Tier 1 and Tier 2 awards is 75 percent. However, applicants are encouraged to provide more than the minimum cost share required as the cost share percentage is a factor used in ranking Tier 2 proposals.
The following documents should be reviewed in their entirety before making the decision to apply for a BIG grant and in the preparation of a grant proposal. These documents further outline eligibility rules, how to prepare your proposal, the national Tier 2 ranking criteria, the proposal review process, and requirements of applicants who are awarded grants. Submitted proposals must demonstrate that all requirements detailed within these documents have been met in order to be eligible for this funding opportunity. Proposals must be submitted electronically to the N.C. BIG Program Coordinator by 5:00 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023 to be considered.