Saturday, April 15 marks the first day boaters and watercraft users must stop at inspection and decontamination stations around the state to help combat the spread of invasive mussels.
Thursday Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks set up stations and trained around 60 seasonal workers how to operate decontamination equipment.
“It’s not rocket science, but it’s really important that they know how to use the equipment and know what we expect of them,” explained Greg Lemon, FWP information bureau chief.
From starting the generator, to adjusting the water pressure and checking the temperature, these workers will be ready to prevent further infestation.
Around 30 inspection stations will be set up around the perimeter of the state and along the Continental Divide. Anyone going to or leaving the Columbia River Basin must be inspected, as well as any out of state boaters.
Decontaminating a watercraft could be as simple as cleaning, draining and drying – or as involved power washing. Generally, decontamination only will require thoroughly cleaning, draining, and drying, which can be done in a matter of minutes.
A full hot water decontamination of a more complex boat with ballasts or live wells takes an average of up to 30 minutes and can include spraying the exterior and flushing interior compartments with pressurized hot water to kill the mussel larvae. In the most extreme cases, the motor’s cooling system will need to be flushed.
“So none of our decontamination stations will be using a chemical, that’s been a common misunderstanding, there are no chemicals,” Lemon explained.
Lemon said people have the option of joining certified local boater programs to expedite processing through inspection stations around Canyon Ferry and Tiber Reservoirs.
But, everyone can pitch in and prevent the spread of mussels.
“Clean, drain, dry – that solves all these problems. That makes your watercraft ready to launch,” Lemon reminded.
Currently, two boat ramps at each reservoir are open for all boaters. At Canyon Ferry, these boat ramps are the Silos on the southwest side of the lake and Shannon on the north end near the dam. At Tiber, the Tiber Marina and VFW ramps, both near the dam, are open to all boaters. Other boat ramps on each reservoir are open to certified local boaters only. On both reservoirs, local boater ramps will be clearly marked.
FWP is also implementing new regulations for transporting standing water starting Saturday.
These new regulations require that all watercraft coming into Montana be inspected prior to launching on any Montana waterbody, mandatory inspections of watercraft traveling across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin within Montana, and a prohibition of transporting surface water in Montana.
Tests last fall showed invasive mussel larvae in Tiber Reservoir near Shelby and suspect in Canyon Ferry.
Click here to visit the "Mussel Alert" website to learn more.