Kalispell, MT — Watercraft inspection stations are reopening across northwest Montana, starting with early-season operations in Kalispell and Ravalli.
In an effort to protect Montana’s waters from harmful aquatic invasive species, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is offering free boat inspections at its regional headquarters in Kalispell, 490 N. Meridian near the fairgrounds. The inspections are available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Starting March 16, FWP will offer inspections at its Region 1 office seven days a week: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
In partnership with FWP, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes is staffing the watercraft inspection station along U.S. Highway 93 in Ravalli, and this station is currently operating seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hours of operation will expand this spring.
Boaters can also call ahead to schedule an inspection at a regional or area FWP office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Additional inspection stations will open across Montana this spring. For more information, visit cleandraindrymt.com.
All boats launching within the Flathead Basin must receive an inspection prior to launching if they last launched outside of the Flathead Basin. For a map of the Flathead Basin, visit cleandraindrymt.com.
In northwest Montana, additional watercraft inspection rules apply for Whitefish Lake (www.cityofwhitefish.org/parks-and-recreation/city-beach.php) and Glacier National Park (nps.gov/glac), and boaters should consult specific regulations for these areas in advance.
All anglers/watercraft participating in the spring Flathead Lake Mack Days tournament, which begins March 20, will need proof of a 2020 boat inspection that will be turned in with first entries.
All watercraft traveling west over the Continental Divide into western Montana (the Columbia River Basin) are required to undergo an inspection as well.
All out-of-state boats must be inspected before launching on Montana waters. Montana will accept inspections conducted in Idaho and Wyoming. Proof of inspection receipt is required, and a seal when applicable.
Boats with a ballast or bladder, such as wakeboard or wake-surfing boats, that are from out of state or traveling from east of the Continental Divide must obtain a decontamination before launching.
Non-resident watercraft launching in Montana are required to have a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass (AISPP). Purchase the Vessel AISPP at FWP regional offices or online at fwp.mt.gov.
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are plants, animals, or pathogens that are not native to Montana and can cause harm to the environment and economy.
AIS are introduced accidentally or intentionally outside of their native range. AIS populations, such as zebra or quagga mussels, can reproduce quickly and spread rapidly because there are no natural predators or competitors to keep them in check. AIS can displace native species, clog waterways, impact irrigation and power systems, degrade ecosystems, threaten recreational fishing opportunities, and can cause wildlife and public health problems.
The three steps of “Clean, Drain, Dry” greatly minimize the risk of spreading AIS into new locations.
- Clean: Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation before leaving an access area.
- Drain: All water from the watercraft and equipment needs to be drained.
- Dry: Let your watercraft and equipment dry before launching in another area. Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas.
For more information on Montana’s defense against aquatic invasive species, visit cleandraindrymt.com.