Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program

Updated on March 19, 2018

The purpose of the federal BIG Program is to provide grants to construct, renovate, and maintain boating infrastructure facilities for transient recreational vessels at least 26 feet or more in length staying up to 15 days. BIG-funded projects enable the owners of large recreational vessels to visit popular boating destinations that they might not otherwise have access to.

The BIG Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In the State of Maryland, Department of Natural Resources (the department) manages the BIG Program and is the direct grantee to USFWS. The Department passes through the federal grant funding to the facility owners (known as sub-grantees).

Because the department is the direct grantee for BIG grants, it is the department’s decision which potential projects, if any, the department will support for possible federal funding.

Funding source and types of funding

Funding for the BIG Program comes from the federal Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund which includes excise taxes paid by manufacturers on sportfishing equipment and electric outboard motors, fuel taxes attributable to motorboats and non-business use of small-engine power equipment.

There are two levels of grant funding:

  • BIG Tier 1 - State grants ($200,000 in federal funds per year per state), and
  • BIG Tier 2 - National grants (maximum $1.5 million in federal funds per project). BIG Tier 2 -National grants are nationally competitive.

Complete requirements of the BIG Program can be located by following the link to the BIG Final Rule.  

What the BIG Program funds

Specific program eligibilities are detailed in the BIG Final Rule §86.11 (eligible) and §86.16 (ineligible)

To check out the facilities that have received BIG funding in Maryland, follow the link here to past funded projects

Who may apply

The department encourages local jurisdictions and private facilities to participate in this program by submitting grant applications to the Department for eligible transient facilities.

How and when to apply

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review all applicable federal and state requirements before submitting a BIG proposal. 

  • Review the BIG Final Rule and MD BIG Program Manual
  • Submit Application for Grant Funding Form by April 30th each year
  • Review Notice of Funding Opportunity(NOFO), typically published in May/June by USFWS
  • If your project is selected for possible submission to USFWS, prepare the Project Statement as per NOFO and submit the application package to the Department by August 31st, or earlier, if directed to do so.

Who to contact:

Li Lan Carson, Federal Projects Lead, 410-260-8452, lilan.carson@maryland.gov

Additional resources:

Frequently Asked Questions
Sample Land Control Agreement
Sample Notice of Grant Agreement