Mandatory watercraft inspection checkpoints continue


MISSOULA, Mont. - Mandatory watercraft inspections continue to operate at Clearwater Junction, Pablo and Browning. The stations are operated by the Flathead Basin Commission under a memorandum of understanding with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The stations help find invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels that aren't noticeable on watercraft. Watercraft can include motorized and nonmotorized boats, jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards and inner tubes.

Fisheries inspector Rob Carroll says right now there aren't active mussel infestations in any Montana water body.

"We want to keep it that way," Carroll said. "The only way we are going to do that is increase public education and have people come in here voluntarily and help us with this program and get their boats checked out."

After the discovery of mussel larvae at Tiber and a suspected sample at Canyon Ferry, new boating rules are in place. Boaters will be required the launch and exit Canyon Ferry and Tiber reservoirs at designated boat ramps unless the boats are certified to remain only in one of those bodies of water.

To learn more about watercraft inspection check points, click here.

Columbia Falls resident Barb Davis says, to do your part in helping keep Montana's waters clean, you can't avoid the checkpoints.

"It's important so we can stop invasive species," Davis said. "Stop and get it checked!"

State lawmakers are also taking action to help Montana's waters stay clean and invasive species-free. House Bill 622 would revise laws relating to:

Invasive species The upper Columbia Conservation Commission Providing powers and duties Location and timing of inspections To learn more about the bill, click here.

Last year Clearwater Junction saw more than 15,000 watercrafts come through the checkpoint. Inspectors say none of them showed signs of invasive species. They hope to keep another clean record this year.

The inspection stations in Clearwater, Pablo and Browning will be operated by the FBC through April 14, after which FWP will take over operations for the remainder of the season.