Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will continue to focus on protecting Montana’s waterways, way of life and outdoor economy from the impacts of invasive species. This effort will require changes to how visitors use Tiber Reservoir.
In 2018, recreationists coming to Tiber will see changes to the AIS watercraft inspection program. This year watercraft launching will be limited to the Tiber Marina and the VFW Campground to ensure all exiting watercraft are inspected and, if necessary, decontaminated to prevent the spread of invasive mussels.
Mandatory watercraft inspection requirements were put in place on Tiber Reservoir in 2017 in response to the detection of invasive mussel larvae. Watercraft inspection stations were established at access points around the lake, but the remote nature of the area and multiple boat launch sites presented significant challenges.
“This is a necessary step to ensure that the Tiber Reservoir can remain open for Montanans to recreate,” said Tom Woolf, AIS Bureau Chief at FWP. “Aquatic invasive species are a serious threat to our outdoor recreation economy and outdoor way of life, and we are confident that this decision will help to greatly improve our ability to effectively protect Montana waters, while still making sure Montanans have access to enjoy this waterbody.”
FWP is committed to keeping Montana’s waters AIS free, and that depends on the dedication of staff, partners, recreationalist and the public to assist with this effort. Last year, several boats left Tiber Reservoir without being inspected and other were directed to decontamination stations and didn’t show up. Focusing watercraft launching on the two boat ramps will provide for better compliance with the decontamination restrictions in place at the reservoir.
FWP continues to proactively assess the AIS issue and make adjustments to address public concerns and strengthen the AIS prevention effort to protect the waters of Montana.
Inspection stations at both Tiber locations will operate from mid-May through mid-October, during periods when water temperatures are conducive to mussel spawning and spread.
Extensive sampling was conducted in Tiber and throughout Montana during the 2017 season, and no adult or larval mussels were found. Due to the difficulty of detecting small populations of invasive mussels, multiple years of sampling will be required to determine if an established population exists in Tiber Reservoir. Monitoring will continue on Tiber this season, and inspection requirements for exiting watercraft will remain in effect to ensure invasive mussels are not spread to other waters.
The Certified Boater Program (formally the Local Boater Program) will still be available to boaters that primarily use Tiber Reservoir to help expedite inspections. Other access areas around Tiber will remain open to camping and shore fishing, but launching for all boats will only be permitted at the VFW and Marina locations.
For more information, go online to CleanDrainDryMT.com or fwp.mt.gov.