Interior grant program provides over $1.6M to benefit recreational boaters, local waterways, communities in Louisiana
(FWS) - Boaters, anglers, communities and aquatic life in Louisiana will reap benefits from more than $1.6 million in grant funds, thanks to a U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program focusing on ensuring clean water and recreational access. Funding to states under the Service’s Clean Vessel Act (CVA) and Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) programs total over $32 million nationwide in 2020.
Louisiana will receive $1,607,846 under the BIG program. Partners will provide an additional $567,667 in non-federal matching funds toward BIG projects. BIG program funds will be used by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to partner with Marina del Ray to replace three existing docks and dedicate them to transient boaters and add an additional six covered wet slips. They will also refit to meet electrical code, repair and upgrade the bathhouse and laundry facilities, make two gangways compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and add new marine pedestals providing utilities, fast internet, and Wi-Fi.
“The boating community plays a crucial role in local economies, and keeping waterways safe, clean and accessible 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.
“We look forward to working with the Town of Madisonville and the City of New Iberia to provide safe and convenient accommodations to transient boaters in Louisiana. These additions and improvements attract boaters and provide access to local businesses and attractions, boosting local economies as well,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “And, it is very important that these projects are in compliance with ADA requirements that will help our physically challenged citizens fully participate in boating activities at these locations.”
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.
Past examples of BIG-funded projects in Louisiana include the Slidell Municipal Marina at Heritage Park in Slidell. Funding was used by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to partner with the city of Slidell to renovate existing bulkheads, construct 42 additional floating docking spaces, and to install safe walkways for boaters to access the park and downtown area at its current Heritage Park location.
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.
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