The state Fish and Boat Commission is now accepting applications for the Boating Facility Grant Program that aims to assist local boating facilities in completing large projects.

Mike Parker, communications director for the state Fish and Boat Commission, provided a brief overview of the program.

“The program will provide funding to help communities with large scale boating projects,” Parker said. “Our goal is to increase public boating access.”

According to the press release sent by the state Fish and Boating Commission, “boating projects” include projects relating to most aspects of a boat launch.

The list includes the following: boat ramps, courtesy floats, restrooms, access roads, parking areas, landscaping in direct relation to access development, aquatic invasive species prevention, transient tie-up floats and signs.

The press release also states the funds “are to be used only for major site improvements and not for any routine maintenance or operation activities.”

The program ran originally from 2005 to 2011 but stopped operation in 2012. It was brought back this year thanks to a surge in boating interest.

“The grant program was around before but took a break. It was popular in the past, though,” Parker said. “Boating in Pennsylvania has become a great family recreational activity in recent years. This is because of an explosion in non-powered boating, such as kayaking. Boating has become a great economic driver for communities. We’re looking to help these communities enhance what they have or create something new.”

Larger projects, Parker said, will take precedence, however.

“When we help communities, we’re not going to be looking at back-burner projects first,” Parker said. “Instead, we’re looking at projects that fulfill an apparent need or have merit. These would be larger projects that would have great impact on a community.”

The press release provides more detailed criteria.

“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 release reads. “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.”

Additionally, the grant is not reserved solely to public boating facilities. Private boating facilities also have an opportunity so long as intend to they serve the community.

“All projects that receive funding from the program must be open to the public,” Parker said. “Again, the goal is to help improve communities. Privately owned boating facilities can take part if they follow that idea.”

Those who successfully apply for funding must “agree to provide a 50% grant match” and keep the boating facility open for free public use.

As the program offers reimbursement grants, recipients will receive funding when the project is complete.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 31, 2019.

All projects approved for reimbursement must be completed by Dec. 31, 2022.

Joshua can be reached at jblattenberger@huntingdondailynews.com.

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