Grants managed by Chesapeake and Coastal Service Center for Waterway Improvement and Infrastructure

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Center for Waterway Improvement and Infrastructure Program accepts grant applications from local governments seeking to build, enhance or rehabilitate public boating facilities or for dredging/navigation related projects.

The grant program is designed to enhance recreational boating by improving navigation, constructing or renovating public access sites, as well as providing for public safety through the acquisition of marine fire/rescue vessels.

Applications for Waterway Improvement Funds can be submitted through GrantsGateway​ within Outcome 5. Once an applicant creates a user profile, applications can be submitted between June 15 and August 15 for the following fiscal year funding consideration.

A. State Waterway Improvement Fund Grants

The Department of Natural Resources administers several state and federal grant programs that support the general boating public in Maryland. Most of these grants, highlighted below, are administered by the Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Center for Waterway Improvement and Infrastructure (the Center).

Maryland’s Waterway Improvement Fund (WIF) provides financial support to local governments, to the department, and to federal agencies in the form of grants and/or loans for a wide variety of capital projects and services for the boating public. With the exception of when the Waterway Improvement Fund is used as match for federally funded pumpout grants, Waterway Improvement Fund grants are only available to public jurisdictions.

Typically, jurisdictions apply for Waterway Improvement Fund grants in order to:

  1. construct, renovate, or maintain boating access facilities;
  2. dredge channels and harbors and;
  3. purchase fireboats in partnership with local fire companies.

Maryland’s Waterway Improvement Fund was established in 1966 (Annotated Code of Maryland Section 8-707 of the State Boat Act) for the purpose of funding projects which improve and promote the recreational and commercial capabilities, conditions and safety of Maryland’s waterways for the benefit of the general boating public. Revenues for this fund are primarily obtained from the onetime 5% excise tax that is paid to the State of Maryland when a boat is purchased and titled in the state.

Since its inception, Waterway Improvement Fund has provided more than $300 million for over 4,500 projects at more than 300 public boating access sites. If you use a publicly owned boat ramp or marina in Maryland, chances are it was funded and is maintained, at least in part, by state Waterway Improvement Fund funds.

The Waterway Improvement Fund also supports services such as ice breaking/navigation aids/derelict boat/debris removal, management of the Clean Marina Initiative, the Marine Sewage Pumpout Program, Shore Erosion Control, and Boating Safety.

Detailed information about Waterway Improvement Fund grants is available at the following links:

The Waterway Improvement Manual

Grant forms in PDF

Grant forms in Microsoft Word

The advantage of using the MS Word version is that you can save the completed form to your computer for future use or reference.

Staff Contacts

  • For Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George's and St. Mary's Counties: Li Lan Carson 410-260-8452 or
  • For Allegany, Baltimore City and County, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Washington Counties: Alice L. Scanlon 410-260- 8440 or
  • For Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester Counties: Sandi Pepe 410-260-8466 or
  • For statewide dredging that is Waterway Improvement Fund eligible, contact Isaac Wilding 410-260-8443 or
  • For overall Center for Waterway Improvement & Infrastructure questions, contact Carla Fleming 410-260-8447 or​

B. Federal Grants​

The federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and provides funding for targeted grant programs designed to benefit fish and wildlife while capitalizing on recreational opportunities across the country. In Maryland, two of these Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grant programs, Boating Access (BA) and Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG), are administered by the Center.

Click here for additional information about the federal WSFR Program

Boating Access (BA) Program

The Boating Access Program funds the construction/renovation of publicly owned boat ramps used by recreational, trailered, motorboats. The funding for the program comes primarily from excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat/small engine fuels. These funds are apportioned to the states by formula and at least 15% of each state’s apportionment must go towards boating access. The department receives approximately $500,000 in Sport Fish Restoration funding per year for boating access.

Detailed information about Maryland’s Boating Access Program is available here.

Maryland’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program​

Maryland’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Program is intended to help you make an informed decision as to whether or not you are eligible to pursue BIG funding.

Please go to the BIG Program web page to get started.

Federal Boating Access and Boating Infrastructure Grant Program Contacts