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Fishing and boating grant program gets eight-month extension

It looks like the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund will get a temporary lease on life. The fund is set to expire at the end of September. But Congress passed an eight-month extension before leaving on its August recess. It included the measure in a the Highway & Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021), which temporarily continues the Highway Trust Fund and other surface transportation measures which were also set to expire at the end of FY 14. Congress presented the bill to President Barack Obama on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014.

Obama has not signed it yet. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week. The Senate subsequently amended it but dropped its amendment when the House refused to accept it.

The fund officially comes under the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, which was first enacted way back in 1950. The matter will have to come up again before the end of May. It's not clear if Congress will take a hard look at the program or just temporarily extend it again.

The bill would keep things going just the way they are, meanwhile. Under the eight-month extension, the U.S. Department of the Interior, which administers the fund, could not increase the amount used on its administrative expenses.

The fund consists of money from taxes on fishing tackle and other equipment, pleasure boats and motorboat fuel and interest earned on such revenue. The Coast Guard uses some of it for boating safety. Most, however, goes to states and territories to build and restore access for pleasure boats and for education of anglers and boaters about safety, resource protection, etc. Portions are reserved for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, coastal wetlands protection, the Clean Vessel Act and boating infrastructure. The Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, which gets a two percent earmark, goes to states to provide facilities to dock boats and educate boaters about the program.