Montana’s first watercraft inspection stations are opening for the 2021 season. Inspection stations near Dillon and Ravalli opened earlier this month. The Anaconda station opened Saturday, March 20, and intercepted the first mussel fouled boat of the year. A used motorboat that had been recently purchased in Wisconsin was found with zebra mussels attached to the anchor. The Anaconda inspectors reported the mussels were dry and dead. The motorboat was en route to Sandpoint, Idaho.
In addition to roadside watercraft inspection stations the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1 office in Kalispell offers inspections from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Starting April 5, the Kalispell office will expand its availability with inspections offered on weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Watercraft inspection stations are Montana’s first line of defense to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species (AIS) which can have devastating impacts on Montana waterways.
Boat owners should ensure their watercraft, trailers and gear are clean, drained and dry before transporting and need to be aware of Montana’s inspection rules:
- All watercraft coming into Montana from out of state must be inspected prior to launching.
- All watercraft traveling west across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin must be inspected prior to launching.
- All watercraft launching anywhere within the Flathead Basin that were last launched on waters outside of the Flathead Basin must be inspected.
- Anyone transporting watercraft must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter.
Snowbirds returning to Montana with a watercraft must seek out an inspection. Watercraft that have been used in mussel-infested waters in other states are of major concern. Boat owners coming to Montana must have their vessel inspected at a Montana watercraft inspection station prior to launch.
To accommodate these rules, inspection stations are set up across Montana during the boating season. Additional inspection stations will open in April and May as the weather warms and boat traffic increases. Montana will accept inspections conducted in Idaho and Wyoming, too.
Watercraft can also be inspected at some FWP offices. For a map and list of inspection stations, visit CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.