How Are BIG Funds Generated and Awarded?

Where do funds come from?

The funds for the BIG program are authorized by the Sport Fishing and Boating Safety Act. Funds come from the Sport Fish Restoration Account of the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. The funds result from a Federal excise tax on fishing equipment, trolling motors, import duties on boats, and motorboat fuels.

How are funds awarded?

All funds are awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and administered by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. States are encouraged to partner with local units of government and private facilities through sub-grants. Federal funds can be used to reimburse up to 75% of the approved project costs. The remaining "matching" funds must come from local sources. Since most costs incurred on a project prior to Federal approval are not eligible for reimbursement, it is imperative that construction does not commence prior to written approval. Certain pre-agreement costs such as design and archeological surveys may be eligible for reimbursement if a project is selected for funding.

Funding Levels

There are two levels of funding within the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program:

  • Tier I:
    • An annual maximum of $100,000 is available to each applying state under the Tier I portion of the BIG Program. Tier I is designed for smaller projects that add transient boating infrastructure to the area and to compete at the state level. Selected projects must still be authorized by USFWS.
  • Tier II:
    • The remainder of the BIG Program annual funding (2% of the fund money, but not less than $8 million nationally, less whatever is awarded under Tier I) is typically awarded to larger projects under Tier II. Tier II projects that qualify at the state level are then competitively judged at the national level. Top scoring projects are awarded an eligible for funding status by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Please note: While both tiers of the BIG Program are competitive; the level of national competition within Tier II is especially high. Successful projects are of a superior nature and are submitted with very thorough applications. We recommend that if you are considering applying for a Tier II project that you contact us early in the application process so that we can provide assistance on the details of your application.