By JOLEEN TADEJ,
As the summer recreation season gets underway, water enthusiasts around the state need to remember to do their part in keeping Montana’s waters free from aquatic invasive species.
One simple way to do this is to make sure and stop at AIS inspection stations if you have a watercraft. It’s not only a good idea, it’s the law.
Remember to clean your watercraft, drain it of all water and make sure it’s dry – Clean, Drain and Dry.
Montana statute requires all people with watercraft to stop at AIS inspection stations or face a ticket.
“We spent last year really trying to educate boaters. This year we’re going to make sure and enforce the law,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks enforcement chief, Tom Flowers.
AIS is an important focus for FWP and its many partners. Montana is currently free of many of the AIS that have plagued other states causing damage to waterways and fisheries. The primary concern for Montana are zebra and quagga mussels, which once established, can permanently alter the ecosystem in a water body, damaging the fishery, recreational and municipal infrastructure and costing millions of dollars in expensive remediation and control.
In Montana, all boaters must stop when they pass an open AIS inspection state. This applies to motorized and non-motorized boaters. People with rafts, drift boats, paddle boards, kayaks, one-man float tubes and any other type of watercraft, must stop. If you’re not sure if you’re required to stop, the safest thing to do is stop and inquire at the inspection station. It’s quick and vital to keeping Montana’s waters clean of AIS.
Montana FWP’s inspection stations opened up on May 19. The agency operates 17 stations around the state through Labor Day weekend. When boaters stop at a check station they’ll be asked questions about where they’ve been with their boats while an inspector looks over their boats.
More than 3,000 boats have stopped at inspection stations in the last two weeks.