Owners of large boats will soon have more choices for docking their boats for stays of 10 days or less in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Recreational parks in the three states are among the dozen winners of the U.S. Department of Interior’s “BIG Grant” competition for more than $7.5 million in grants. The Interior Department awarded the grants to 10 states for 11 projects to support recreational boating through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant program.
J.P. Coleman State Park near Iuka was Mississippi’s winner. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, J.P. Coleman State Park offers an array of water recreation that includes sailing, swimming, skiing, and fishing for smallmouth bass in Pickwick Lake.
The park in Northeast Mississippi J. P. Coleman is to receive $802,560 to construct 20 transient boating slips at the J. P. Coleman State Park marina. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will partner with Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors, the Tishomingo County Development Foundation and The Tombigbee River Valley Water Management to build the slips designed to accommodate boats 26 feet in length or larger. Total cost is $1.25 million, with a match of $451,400 from the state and its partner entities.
The park offers primitive camp sites, developed camp sites, cabins, motel rooms, swimming pools, and miniature golf.
Alabama’s winning entry was the Docks at Manderson Landing in Tuscaloosa. The park is to receive a $199,568 grant to construct a floating dock with eight handicap accessible slips, a pump-out, dockside electric service, a pedestrian access ramp, retaining wall, and a gangway ramp providing ADA accessibility for transient non-trailerable recreation boaters. Total cost is $567,568, with $368,000 coming from non-federal sources.
Arkansas won $1,028,425 to create 25 transient slips and fuel services at Rockwater Marina in North Little Rock. The slips will be for vessels up to 70 feet long.
The state and local contribution is $578,489 for the $1.6 million project.
Slidell Municipal Marina at Heritage Park was Louisiana’s winning entry, with a $1.5 million grant to renovate existing bulkheads, construct 42 additional floating-lay-along docking spaces, and install safe walkways for boaters. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will partner with the City of Slidell on the project, which has a total cost of $2.5 million.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized the economic aspect of transient boating in announcing the awards Thursday. “Recreational boaters and anglers contribute to our nation’s thriving outdoor recreation economy and play an important role in conservation of our rivers, watersheds and oceans,” Salazar said. “These competitive grants will help provide quality opportunities and access to America’s great outdoors for our nation’s boaters and anglers, while creating jobs by funding major construction projects to build docks, boat slips and facilities.”
Outdoor recreation, including boating and fishing, contribute an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year, Salazar noted.