Enjoy Memorial Day on the Water, But be Safe, Know the Rules and Clean Drain Dry

By JOLEEN TADEJ

Memorial Day in Montana is the unofficial start to summer and as boaters flock to the amazing rivers and lakes across the state, they need to keep in mind the new rules aimed at limiting and preventing aquatic invasive species.

All watercraft coming into Montana from out of state must be inspected prior to launching. Additionally, all watercraft travelling across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin, must be inspected.

To accommodate these new rules, inspection stations are set up across Montana, with the goal of protecting Montana’s borders and the Continental Divide.

Also new this year are requirements that all watercraft leaving Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoir be decontaminated, unless they are part of the certified local boater program.

Give other boats plenty of space. Photo by ©TonyReinhardt

These heightened efforts at protecting Montana’s waters are in response to the discovery last fall of aquatic invasive mussel larvae in water samples from Tiber Reservoir. A sample from Canyon Ferry Reservoir also was found to be suspect for the mussel larvae.

Just like in past years, watercraft owners must stop at any open inspection station they encounter. Typically, these stops are very brief and include a short series of questions about where the watercraft has been and quick inspection. Watercraft owners can make this process quick and easy if they consistently practice Clean, Drain and Dry.

  • Clean all debris from the watercraft and trailer.
  • Pull drain plugs and make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
  • Dry out your watercraft, including dry wells, storage areas and compartments.

Following these simple instructions will not only protect Montana’s waters, but will also expedite inspections.

Additionally, for those boaters on Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoir who need decontamination, the Clean, Drain and Dry guidelines help too.

Decontamination can be as simple as Clean, Drain, Dry or more complicated depending on the watercraft. In the most extreme situations, decontamination will involve a high temperature, high pressure wash. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks decontamination station staff are prepared for all scenarios, but busy weekends will require patience from everyone.

In response to the busy weekend, FWP inspection station and enforcement staff will be working hard to make sure everyone knows the AIS rules in place and has a safe and fun time on the water.