As a growing number of communities realize the positive social and economic impacts of having convenient boating access along their local waterways, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is excited to offer a round of Boating Facility Grants to help communities capitalize on the surge in new boating activity.
The PFBC encourages townships, boroughs, municipal and county governments, as well as nonprofit groups (501c3) including land trusts, conservancies, and watershed associations that are interested in the planning, acquisition, development, expansion, or rehabilitation of public boating facilities to apply for funding. Program information and the application can be located on the PFBC website.
“This year, more than ever, we have witnessed how popular boating has become for individuals and families looking to get outdoors,” said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director. “The popularity of kayaking alone has exploded, leaving many existing boating access points overcrowded with paddlers eager to be on the water. Funds awarded through this grant program can help communities develop projects to improve existing access areas or develop something new to both serve local residents and attract recreational boaters to their region.”
The program is designed to help local governments and eligible nonprofit groups provide or improve public recreational boat access facilities in their communities that are open and available for general public use. Private businesses and service clubs are not eligible for direct funding, but are encouraged to partner with their local county or municipality.
Applicants can seek grants for site acquisition, project design and engineering, development, expansion, removal of aquatic invasive species and major rehabilitation of recreational boat access facilities. Activities must benefit and directly support public recreational boating. Eligible projects must be constructed on lands owned in “fee simple” by the project sponsor or, where ownership is less than fee simple interest, ownership rights must provide for permanent control of the property commensurate with the proposed development. Eligible construction projects include, but are not limited to, boat ramps, courtesy floats, restrooms, access roads, parking areas, landscaping in direct relation to access development, transient tie-up floats, and signs. Grant funds can be used only for major site improvements and not for any routine maintenance or operation activities.
For the 2021 round of grants, the PFBC will accept applications from anywhere in the Commonwealth. Thanks to the availability of additional federal funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the PFBC will give special consideration to projects that provide public boating access in the Delaware River watershed.
Successful applicants must agree to provide a 50% grant match and be willing to enter into a long-term agreement to keep the facility open to free public use for its useful life. The PFBC will give priority funding consideration to applicants that provide more than the required 50% match, thereby reducing the total amount of grant funds required to complete the project.
The Boating Facility Grant Program is a reimbursable grant program. Grant funds will be disbursed to the applicant/recipient only after completion of the project occurs and agency staff has verified that the work has been completed.
Program grant funds are available in each annual state fiscal period as authorized and allocated by the PFBC. All work funded for this round of grants should be completed by December 30, 2022. The Commission may adjust the amount of funds available, application, and consideration dates to meet existing needs or opportunities that may occur. Large projects may be phased in over several fiscal years to maximize leverage, distribution, and availability of funds.
The PFBC gives highest priority to the rehabilitation of existing facilities, followed by expansion of existing facilities, and then acquisition and development of new boating facilities. The Commission will rank projects based on local, regional, and statewide needs such as boat use and number of boaters served, relationship to adjacent or nearby public and private boating facilities (ramps and/or marinas), and needs based on strategic statewide, regional, or local plans.
The Boating Facility Grant Program funds are derived from boat registration fees, launch permit fees for unpowered boats, state fuel taxes collected on fuel used in motorboats, and through various federal grant programs. No state general funds are used for any Commission programs. The deadline for applications is December 30, 2020.