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Recreational Boating Facilities Grants

These grants may be used by counties, towns, cities, villages, tribes, sanitary districts, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts and qualified lake associations for recreational boating facility projects.

Past projects have included ramps and service docks to gain access to the water, purchase of aquatic plant harvesting equipment, navigational aids and dredging waterway channels associated with launch facilities.

FOR GRANT REQUESTS IN EXCESS OF $250,000: Applications for RBF grants exceeding $250,000 are encouraged to be submitted to your regional DNR grants specialists in time for the June 1st, or September 1st, application deadlines. These larger grant requests take extra processing time and therefore are highly recommended for earlier evaluation, in the first two quarters of the fiscal year. Contact your regional DNR grants specialist as soon as possible, if you have a larger project and you are planning to apply for a RBF grant. DNR grants specialists can help with scheduling and grant processing.


  1. Prior to project review by the commission, the sponser shall have obtained all permits required under ch. 30, Stats. and s. 281.17(2), Stats. (chemical treatment)
  2. Costs incurred prior to having a signed grant agreement will need approval by the department. No downpayments are allowed.
  3. Projects approved to receive RBF funding by the Wisconsin Waterways Commission must obtain all fiscal processing approvals by March 1st of the fiscal year within which they were awarded funding. If a project does not successfully receive all approvals to proceed, grant funds designated for that project will be returned to the grant program for redistribution and utilization within the allowable fiscal year. Applicants may then reapply in the next cycle.

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Who can apply

Eligible applicants

Counties, towns, cities, villages, tribes, sanitary districts, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts and qualified lake associations are eligible to apply for funds.

Eligible items

DNR provides cost sharing of up to 50% for eligible costs.

Eligible projects

  • Channel dredging - Dredging of inland water channels for recreational boating (not more than once in ten years).
  • Construction projects
    • Facilities such as ramps and boarding docks required to gain access to the water.
    • Harbors of refuge – structures such as bulkheads and breakwaters necessary to provide safe water conditions.
    • Dredging to provide safe water depths. Dredging of basins is an eligible activity only when it is associated with project development.
    • Support facilities include parking lots and signage, sanitary facilities, fencing and security lighting for the convenience of boaters.
  • Improvement and repair of locks - Cost of improvement and repair of locks and facilities that provide access between waterways for operators of recreational watercrafts.
  • Navigation aids - Cost of aids to navigation and regulatory markers including the cost of appropriate ground tackle.
  • Rehabilitation - Rehabilitation of capital improvements that are related to recreational boating facilities.
  • Trash skimming equipment - Acquisition of equipment to collect and remove floating trash and debris from a waterway.
  • Aquatic Plant harvesting equipment - Acquisition of equipment that is necessary to cut and remove aquatic plants.


Applications are accepted at any time.

A five-member Waterways Commission, appointed by the governor, reviews and recommends projects for funding. Deadlines are established quarterly.

Tentative Application and WWC Meeting Schedule

Fiscal Year Application Deadlines WWC Meeting Dates (subject to change)
June 1 August 20, 2024
September 1 2nd Tuesday in November
November 1 2nd Tuesday in January
February 1 2nd Tuesday in April

Priority rank

The following factors are considered in establishing priorities for projects.

  • Distance of proposed project from other recreational boating facilities
  • Demand for safe boating facilities
  • Existing facilities
  • Projects underway
  • Commitment of funds
  • Location of proposed project with the region identified in s. 25.29(7)(a), Wis. Stats [exit DNR].


Grant related statutes and administrative codes


Contact information
For more information on RBF grants, please contact:
Your regional DNR grant project manager