BoatU.S. urges support for working waterfronts bill

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A bill now in Congress would provide federal funding to coastal and Great Lakes states to help preserve and protect working waterfronts, according to a release from the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.).

The group is urging boaters and anglers to contact their members of Congress to co-sponsor and support H.R. 2548, the “Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act of 2009.”

“Working waterfronts are a dying breed,” BoatU.S. said in its release. “With developer’s eyes on waterfront parcels, water-dependent businesses like marinas, boat yards, commercial fishing operations, boat builders, and charter boat fleets are getting pushed out from the only place they can do business.”

The legislation, which was introduced in May by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and cosponsored by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), would allow local governments to use federal grant funds to purchase a threatened marina outright or a non-profit group could obtain a grant to buy development rights in order to keep a working boatyard in business.

Grants made under the bill would have to “provide for expansion or improvement of public access to coastal waters” and be matched at 25 percent by non-federal funds. The act would authorize $25 million, $50 million and $75 million to the states over three successive years. To be eligible for grant funding, a state would have to develop a working waterfront plan and appoint an advisory committee to oversee the program.

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