State and tribal agencies are opening up mandatory watercraft inspection stations this week. They’re preparing for the influx of spring and summer boaters from near and far. Watercraft inspections are used to prevent aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, from spreading into Montana's lakes and streams.
Watercraft inspections are especially important for snowbirds and tourists who may have been boating in mussel-infested waters since last year.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Dillon Tabish says, "For folks who have been boating outside of Montana and they’re coming back here to spend the summer, we really need them to stop at these inspection stations to make sure that they’re not bringing an aquatic invasive species with them into Montana."
The Tribes and FWP require all boats, motorized and non-motorized, to be inspected prior to launch when entering the Flathead Basin. Any boats entering from out of state and any boats heading west over the continental divide also need to be checked before they can launch.
Tabish says even if you think your boat looks okay, boaters need to get these mandatory inspections.
"It can be very difficult to identify mussels on these boats," he says. "They can be smaller than a fingernail and it doesn’t take much to get populated into a lake."
Boat owners and renters can bring their watercraft to be inspected at the FWP office in Kalispell seven days a week starting this Wednesday.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes plan to open the Ravalli watercraft inspection station on Highway 200 on Friday and a third station in Browning is expected to open later in March. Additional inspection stations will open in April and May as boat traffic increases.