An invasive mussel prevention plan is creating conflict between some recreational boaters and resource managers over access to Tiber Reservoir.
Tiber is the only lake in the state that’s tested positive for invasive mussels two years in a row.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks announced a few weeks ago that it would limit access to Tiber to two boat launches which would be staffed to enforce inspections and decontamination. That proposal, which suggested blocking off the other boat access points with concrete jersey barriers, proved unpopular at a meeting in Chester last month.
FWP is now considering alternatives, including additional launch sites, special considerations for non-motorized watercraft and special access sites for emergency and search and rescue response teams. And the agency is seeking public input for its Tiber Reservoir containment plan.
Kate Wilson with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says that last year nearly 100 watercraft were intercepted at inspection stations after they had left Tiber or Canyon Ferry without an inspection or decontamination.
"Looking at the data from last season the concern is that there were a lot of compliance issues, a lot of people not doing what was supposed to happen when they left the reservoir," said Wilson. "And as a result we are kind of left in a vulnerable position in our other water bodies, west of the divide, east of the divide, everywhere."
With eight boat access points and limited resources, Wilson says it is difficult to ensure that boaters on Tiber will visit the necessary checkpoints to decontaminate their boats.
FWP is asking for public comment on Tiber Reservoir boating access now through next Monday, April 9.
Comments can be sent to email@example.com and must be received by Monday, April 9.
Written comments, postmarked by April 9, can also be mailed to: Fisheries Division, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.