Restrictions on hand-propelled boats being lifted at Glacier NP - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Restrictions on hand-propelled boats being lifted at Glacier NP

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(MTN News photo) (MTN News photo)

Glacier National Park officials say that hand-propelled, non-trailered watercraft -- including kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards -- will be allowed in the park with mandatory inspection beginning in May.

Park waters were closed last November to all boating as a precaution after invasive species of non-native mussels were detected in two popular Montana reservoirs east of the park.

Hand-powered boat users will be required to have their craft certified mussel-free by Glacier staff under a new inspection program with stations.

Park officials say this marks a change from last season when hand-propelled watercraft required visitors to complete an AIS-free self-certification form before launching into Glacier’s lakes.

Privately owned motorized and trailered watercraft brought into the park will not be allowed to operate on Glacier’s waters this summer while a comprehensive assessment of the threat from mussels is underway.

“We are continuing to evaluate the emerging threat of aquatic invasive mussels to Glacier’s lakes and streams,” said Glacier National Park spokesman Jeff Mow. “To prepare for lake recreation after the spring thaw, we are implementing a rigorous inspection process for human-powered boats, which have a lower risk of transporting these harmful mussels."

It is estimated that if the infestation were to spread into the Columbia River Basin, affected states and provinces would be expending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to mitigate the impacts of infestations to infrastructure such as irrigation canals, hydroelectric dams, and utility systems.

The park is coordinating its response to the discovery of invasive mussels in the state with Montana’s Mussel Response team, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, Waterton Lakes National Park, the Flathead Basin Commission, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, the province of Alberta, the City of Whitefish, and all the states downstream on the Columbia River. 

Inspection stations for hand-propelled watercraft will be located on the west side of the park in Apgar Village and the east side of the park at Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier ranger stations.

The only recreational motorized watercraft allowed in the park this year will be the concession tourboats and the concession motorboat rentals.  These are boats that remain in the park year-round and have not been and will not be launched on bodies of water elsewhere.

Click here for more information about boating procedures at Glacier National Park.

RELATED: Montana boaters face increased inspections this season

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