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FWP seeks comments on effort to ramp up AIS defense in Flathead - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

FWP seeks comments on effort to ramp up AIS defense in Flathead Basin

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KALISPELL - Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are looking for you to weigh in on a proposal to adopt a pilot program in the Flathead Basin to prevent the transport and introduction of aquatic invasive species.

The pilot program would require vessels and equipment traveling into the Flathead Basin that have been used on waters outside of the area to be inspected at a department inspection station prior to launching.

Numbers show that of the more than 85,000 watercraft that came through FWP's 35 inspection stations last year, 17 were intercepted transporting zebra or Quagga mussels."One mussel and unfortunately that can lead to a population being established," said FWP spokesman Dillon Tabish.

FWP is looking to ramp up defense efforts in an effort to defend the vitally important ecosystem from the spread of invasive species.

"Our proposal which is out for public comment right now would require vessels and equipment traveling into this area," Tabish said. "So if you're a boater traveling into this area, you would be required to stop at a department inspection station before you can launch to make sure that your boat doesn't have any aquatic invasive species on it."

Tabish says this will help defend the vital ecosystem.

"Previously it was only if they were open Monday through Friday and we had some weekend stations that we're open," Tabish explained adding that a proposal is now out for public comment. "We go through all those comments and put those together before a final decision is made."

All comments must be received no later than Feb. 9. FWP will host a public hearing to discuss the plan on Tuesday, Feb. 6  at their offices in both Kalispell and Missoula.

Written data, views, or arguments may also be submitted to: Tom Woolf, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620; or e-mail: Thomas.Woolf@mt.gov.

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