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Tuesday January 15, 4:31 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - BIG Grants: Ohio Among Eight States To Receive Federal Funds for Major Boating Facilities Projects

MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Ohio's Middle Bass Island State Park will receive $861,383 in Federal funds to expand facilities for Lake Erie boaters, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ohio joins Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington in sharing $4.4 million in grants for nine boating facility projects to receive funding in 2002.

The grants are the second round of awards made under the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program, administered by the Service. The funding is authorized by the Sportfishing and Boating Safety Act of 1998 and funded in part by excise taxes on motorboat fuel. BIG grant program funds are aimed at improving docking facilities for transient, non-trailerable boats along the navigable waterways of the United States.

``Thanks to the BIG program, millions of people will be able to enjoy greater and better recreational and fishing opportunities off America's shores,'' said Service Acting Director Marshall Jones.

``The BIG program is a big deal for recreational boat owners who will now have the opportunity to visit more state and local parks and historic sites which heretofore were inaccessible by boat,'' added Boat U.S. Vice President Michael Sciulla.

The BIG program provides the states with funding for: mooring buoys; day-docks; transient slips; safe harbor facilities (including safe anchorage or a harbor of refuge during a storm); floating and fixed piers and breakwaters; dinghy docks; restrooms; retaining walls; bulkheads; dockside utilities; pump-out stations, trash collection and recycling facilities; dockside electric, water and telephone capabilities; navigational aids; and marine fueling stations.

The grant awarded to Ohio will fund several projects at Middle Bass Island State Park on Lake Erie, including harbor enlargement; repair and restoration of a seawall; and installation of 30 docks accommodating up to 60 transient boats. Docks will be 35 to 40 feet long and will be available for short-term rentals up to 10 days. These projects augment improvements made under the 2001 BIG program and when complete will offer boaters a total of 86 docks, with space for 170 transient boats.

BIG transient facilities must be built in waters deep enough for boats 26 feet and larger to navigate a minimum of six feet of depth at low tide. One-time dredging is allowed to provide access between open water and tie-up facilities.

BIG program funds are being distributed each year over a four-year period ending in 2003. To ensure that each State gets a share, funding is provided on a two-tiered basis. For tier-one grants, all States are eligible to receive up to $100,000 per grant cycle as long as their proposals meet the program's guidelines. Tier-two projects are designed for larger, more expensive projects and are awarded on a competitive basis.

The nine tier-two grants were selected from 58 proposals submitted from across the country. Acting Director Jones decided to fund the nine projects based upon recommendations received from a panel of Service Regional staff as well as those submitted by the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council. The Council is a federally chartered body that advises the Secretary of the Interior and the Service on recreational fishing and boating issues. The Council recommends projects to the Service based on a review of proposals by a Council-appointed subcommittee. Subcommittee members include:
bulletBill Anderson, Westrec Marina Management;
bulletMike Hough, States Organization for Boating Access;
bulletJim Kalkofen, Professional Walleye Trial;
bulletRyck Lydecker, Boat U.S.;
bulletNeil Ross, formerly of the Marine Environmental Education Foundation; and
bulletJohn Schwartz, Michigan Sea Grant College Program

    Following the competitive process, the Service announced the following BIG
    Tampa Convention Center, Tampa Bay, for new transient docking facilities

    Bucktown Harbor Marina, Lake Pontchartrain, for new transient docking
    facilities ($407,000)

    Cypress Cove Marina, Mississippi River, for new transient docking
    facilities ($200,000)

    Coleman State Park, Tennessee River, for repairing harbor dike and adding
    safety features for transient boaters ($224,000)

    Middle Bass Island State Park, to install 60 transient slips, completing
    work initiated with BIG program funds in 2001 ($861,383)

    Port of Astoria, Columbia River, construct and renovate transient docking
    facilities ($354,750)

    South Carolina
    Charleston City Dock, Ashley River, for new transient docking facilities

    Yorktown Harbor, York River, Chesapeake Bay, for new transient docking
    facilities ($600,000)

    Hanford Reach Gateway Dock, Columbia River, for new transient docking
    facilities ($299,982)

With only one more round of grants scheduled before Congressional re- authorization is required to continue the program, States are urged to submit their proposals before this year's September 30 deadline.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For further information about programs and activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, please visit the website at http://midwest.fws.gov

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



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