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 is now accepting 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 Fiscal Year 2021 grant funding are due August 9th.

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 4,500 projects at more than 300 public boating access sites. If you use a publicly owned boat ramp or marina, 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 to 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 or Fred Bedell 410-260-8920 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

Thank you for checking out Maryland’s BIG Program! Hopefully, the information contained on our website will help you make an informed decision whether or not you would like to pursue BIG funding for your boating facility.

As a quick program note, once you go on Maryland’s BIG Program website, you will see that there are two levels of BIG funding; BIG – Tier 1 and BIG – Tier 2. In 2019, the Department will be accepting applications for BIG – Tier 2 projects. The state applications are due by April 30, 2019.

Go to the BIG Program web page to get started!

Federal Boating Access and Boating Infrastructure Grant Program Contacts