ANNAPOLIS, MD — Governor Wes Moore announced today that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will provide $13.5 million in Waterway Improvement Funds. The allocated funds will support various initiatives, such as developing new and improved public boating access facilities, dredging navigable public waterways, and providing emergency vessels and equipment for local first responders. These investments are aimed at enhancing infrastructure and promoting public water use in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties, among others.

Governor Moore emphasized the importance of investing in infrastructure to unlock Maryland’s resources fully. He commended the partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and local jurisdictions, highlighting its critical role in improving, maintaining, and increasing the utilization of public waterways.

The Waterway Improvement Fund, which amounts to $13.5 million, is primarily funded through a one-time 5% excise tax on boat purchases and titles within the state and a small portion of the state gas tax. The fund has been instrumental in constructing and maintaining over 400 public boating facilities, 250 public navigational channels, and acquiring vessels across Maryland.

Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Josh Kurtz praised the Waterway Improvement Fund as a remarkable example of a user-pay, user-benefit program. With most funds from Maryland’s boating public, local initiatives receive crucial support through this partnership.

The selection of projects for funding is based on the needs and priorities of local governments and the state. Evaluation criteria include assessing the benefits to the general motor boating public. Beginning July 15, the Department of Natural Resources will accept applications for Waterway Improvement Fund grants for the upcoming fiscal year through the department’s online Grants Gateway.

Several projects in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties have been identified for funding in the fiscal year 2024. These projects are aimed at enhancing boating infrastructure and promoting safety and accessibility. The allocated funds for Calvert County amount to $229,063 and will support initiatives such as purchasing a dive and rescue rigid hull vessel for the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department and the dredging and beneficial use of the boat ramp at Hallowing Point State Park.

A significant allocation of $1,250,000 has been designated in St. Mary’s County. This funding will be utilized to improve public boating access at St. Inigoes Landing and renovate and enhance the marina at Point Lookout State Park.

The Waterway Improvement Fund grants extend beyond these counties, covering various projects across Maryland. For instance, Anne Arundel County has received $1,484,000 for public boating access improvements, engineering, and dredging at locations such as the City of Annapolis Fourth Street, Hawkins Cove, and Shipwright Street End. Additionally, Worcester County has been allocated $2,029,177, which will be used for multiple projects, including the purchase of rescue boat safety equipment for the Pocomoke City Volunteer Fire Company and the replacement of the Pocomoke River State Park Milburn Landing Boat Ramp.

Furthermore, statewide initiatives are also part of the funding allocation. Approximately $3,931,997 has been reserved for the Maryland Pumpout Grant Program, the replacement of patrol vessels and outboard motors for the Maryland Natural Resources Police, emergency maintenance and dredging across the state, and matching funds for federal boating access and boating infrastructure grants. The remaining funds will be utilized for state projects and priorities determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources aims to promote boating safety, accessibility, and environmental stewardship through its Waterway Improvement Fund. The investments in infrastructure and initiatives will provide long-term benefits to the public, facilitating enhanced enjoyment and utilization of Maryland’s waterways.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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