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Boating Infrastructure Grant Program rule change reproposed

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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is once again issuing a new proposal to change the way it doles out money under the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program (BIG). FWS first proposed to revise the rules in March 2012, partially to implement recommendations going as far back as 2003. It is starting the process again, once more asking for public comments.

FWS proposed the new rules in the Federal Register of Friday, April 25, 2014. It received 22 comments during its last public comment period. Half of them asked or more time to review the proposal. The new proposal incorporates some recommendations commenters made.

Now you've got till July 14 to send in comments. Refer to docket number FWS-R9-WSR-2011-0083. Send them electronically here. Or send them by mail or in person to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R9-WSR-2011-0083, FWS, Division of Policy and Directives Management, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr., MS 2042-PDM, Arlington, VA 22203.

Based on comments received, FWS is proposing to rename the subgrant categories to BIG Standard (state grants) and BIG Select (national grants). FWS awards both types competitively and the previously proposed names didn't make this clear. The new proposal would make corresponding technical changes to reflect the new names and in other categories. It adds definitions and gives examples in a variety of areas.

The new proposal also suggests a variety of clarifications and organizational improvements. It changes language, for instance, to clarify that grantees may not use grant funds to acquire land for construction projects. And it makes clear that large non-motorized recreational sailboats are not excluded from the program. FWS never intended to exclude them but a literal reading of previous language unintentionally did so.

The new proposal also clarifies what maintenance activities are legitimate grant uses. It would allow funds for day-use as well as overnight docking – the previous language didn't specify the former. And it clarifies that removing oil, bilge water, waste and other disposable items are not an eligible grant activity since they are not structural.

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