Uncle Sam is getting back in the business of supporting maritime preservation and education.

After several years of a funding drought, the U.S. Park Service and the Maritime Administration are wiping the dust off the files of the Maritime Heritage Program and are ready to invest $1.7 million in projects across the country that promote maritime history.

The program relies on funds from the recycling of old ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet scrapping program, but environmental and worker safety issues halted that program in 1998, which cut off the money source for the heritage grants after just its first year of operation.

A resolution of the dispute has allowed scrapping to resume. Money from these recycling projects also funds education programs at the U.S. and state maritime academies.

Applications are welcomed from an array of projects that teach about maritime history or seek to preserve maritime history. Grants are available to state, tribal and local governments as well as private non-profits, and must be matched 1 to 1.

Education projects, which could include a school curriculum, interpretive programs and websites, will be funded between $25,000-$50,000. Preservation projects, such as restoration of ships and other maritime resources, will be funded between $50,000-$200,000.

When the program was last operational in 1998, it funded restoration of Point Sur Lighthouse in California, a project to preserve customs records at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, the relocation of the C.C.C Jackson and C.S.S. Chattahoochee in Georgia, an exhibit on boatbuilding on the Mississippi at the Mississippi River Museum in Iowa, a deck replacement of the U.S.S Massachusetts, and an exhibit on boatbuilding on Maine’s lakes, shores and rivers.

“Maritime history plays a central role in our national narrative,” Acting Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen said in a statement announcing the program last week. “With the restart of this program, we have the opportunity to raise American awareness and understanding of marine transportation’s pivotal role in our nation’s past, present and future.”

Details can be found online at http://go.nps.gov/14n1n8
Grant applications will be accepted until Sept. 23.

Funds are expected to continue at about the level of $1.7 million for at least the next four years, according to Marad’s projections of the ship scrapping schedule.

Reviving this program is a rare opportunity to launch or advance maritime heritage projects. Maritime enthusiasts, this is your chance to get your idea off the drawing board.

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.