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First Montana watercraft inspection stations open for 2017 boating season

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Folks can be fined for not stopping (photo: FWP) Folks can be fined for not stopping (photo: FWP)
HELENA -

Montana’s first watercraft inspection stations of the 2017 boating season opened on Friday.

Last fall’s discovery of invasive mussels in Montana led to an escalation in Montana’s war on aquatic invasive species.

The inspection stations part of the new expanded aquatic invasive species program.

The Montana Mussel Response Team announced earlier this year that they would transition from an emergency response to the implementation phase.

The phase came with a series of recommendations to combat future outbreaks of the invasive species, which included an increase in watercraft inspection stations.

The inspection stations are in Pablo just south of Flathead Lake and at Clearwater Junction where Highway 200 meets Highway 83.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is currently taking feedback on a plan to expand inspection and decontamination stations across the state.

The agency is also adding seasonal employees to increase monitoring efforts.

The seasonal employees will work on the newly created Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau to manage the prevention, detection and control of aquatic invasive species in the state.

“Boaters and water users in Montana can expect some significant changes in 2017 as we work diligently to protect our water bodies from aquatic invasive mussels, particularly west of the Continental Divide,” said Eileen Ryce of Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Ryce added, “We want to prevent the further spread within the state and into the state and the best way to do that is for boaters and all watercraft users to take accountability for their own water craft and it is very simple they just have to clean, drain and dry.”

The inspection stations will be operated by the Flathead Basin Commission under a memorandum of understanding with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

People with watercrafts who do not stop at check stations could face a fine.

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