Before Congress left Washington, D.C. for its two-week October recess, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed several measures that provide funding for key recreational boating industry’s priorities. The bills – which include programs that would promote and protect boating access and local economies that depend on the industry – now head to the full Senate for consideration.
The spending bills contain funding for Everglades and Great Lakes restoration, marine sanctuaries projects, and additional U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs. NMMA said securing funding for these initiatives has been a top priority, and the association appreciates the committee’s work to approve these critical funding measures. Brief summaries of the specific provisions NMMA advocated for are below.
Department of Commerce
The bill would provide $1.5 million for the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, which would continue the department’s analysis highlighting the impact that outdoor recreation has on the U.S. economy. Additionally, the bill provides $61.5 million for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, including $6 million for NOAA’s efforts to improve and enhance recreational anglers’ and boaters’ experiences in National Marine Sanctuaries.
Department of Interior
The measure provides $301 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) – which would be a $1 million increase above the current level. GLRI is a critical program that works to protect and restore the Great Lakes through the prevention of aquatic invasive species, harmful algal blooms, and habitat restoration.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Most notably, the bill provides $200 million for Everglades restoration. The committee also provided robust funding for many of the U.S. Army Corps’ projects that are critically important to recreational boaters: $23.9 million for navigation maintenance; $50 million for inland waterway modernization; and $54 million for projects at small or subsistence harbors. Additionally, the bill directs the U.S. Army Corps to study alternative and recyclable solutions for disposal of dredged materials that can provide economic and environmental benefits.