With the Missouri River Basin now positive for invasive mussels, the Flathead region is taking proactive steps to strengthen existing prevention efforts. This week, the Flathead Basin Commission is sponsoring a Watercraft Inspection Training (WIT) I class for owners and personnel that staff marinas, yacht clubs, and boat sale and rental businesses in order to build local capacity, and to increase the ability of local residents to police their own facilities and inspect boats that come into their establishments.
The WIT I training will take place at the Kalispell Library on May 11 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. While advance registration is encouraged, walk-ins are welcome. Attendance can be confirmed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 406.240.3453.
Currently, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks requires all boats entering the state or crossing the continental divide to be inspected. However, the system is porous as the hours of operation at inspection stations are constrained, and drive-bys at mandatory inspections stations continue to occur. And even new boats that in theory should not be a threat, are not necessarily free of AIS. Some companies test drive new boats in mussel fouled waters prior to releasing the boats to retailers so vigilance is necessary.
Caryn Miske, the Executive Director of the Flathead Basin Commission, stated “we need all hands on deck – the more eyes we have in the field the better off we will be here in the Flathead region.”
The WIT I training is a one-day hand-on training program for those individuals that will be inspecting boats for the presence of Aquatic Invasive Species. The training includes but is not limited to: (1) overview of CSKT and FWP regulations and requirements; (2) Inspection protocols; and (3) hands-on “practice” inspections.
This is the first time the FBC has provided WIT I training geared specifically to local businesses. “If we do not engage local businesses and the Flathead boating community, it is more likely that our prevention efforts will fail,” said Erik Hanson, the AIS consultant for the Flathead AIS workgroup. The training will greatly enhance the ability and capacity of locally based watercraft businesses to inspect boats from the Missouri, as well as from other states with significant mussel populations.
For further information contact Caryn Miske, Executive Director Flathead Basin Commission at 406.240.3453.