RAVALLI (KPAX TV) — Montana’s boat inspection sites expect upwards of 2,000 boats statewide over the long holiday weekend.
Governor Steve Bullock was under the boat earlier this week lending a hand and checking for aquatic invasive species.
The July 4th weekend in Western Montana means people from all over the country will be heading to our pristine recreation waterways to enjoy the holiday.
But before hitting the water, boats will be inspected for invasive aquatic species — and if you stopped at that Ravalli inspection station on Wednesday afternoon you might have had a surprise inspector
“You see that sign behind us — water is life? And that really is true in Montana — our clean water — and they take this job very very seriously,” said Gov. Steve Bullock.
“It’s meaningful to both learn what they do — but see how seriously everyone takes this? Because you know that if you made one mistake. that could impact a waterway,” he added.
Bullock AIS Inspection
Gov. Steve Bullock at the boat inspection station on Highway 93 in Ravalli. (MTN News photo)
It’s an impact on waters like Flathead Lake that could cost billions of dollars.
“Just for the Flathead Lake area alone — if mussels ended up getting into that lake — property value could be impacted by $1.5 billion,” Gov. Bullock pointed out.
“The beaches that families will be enjoying all weekend long could be completely corroded with the mussels,” he added.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials note that states in the Western region work together to fight invasive species.
Gov. Bullock says that Montana is a shining example of a successful inspection program, “and Montana’s program is now seen as one of the premier programs in the entire country.”
“And like, on the one hand, you could say there has only been 16 different detections so far this season, but every one of those is the possibility of a lake or waterway saved. So, it’s pretty critical the good work these folks are doing 24 hours a day,” Gov. Bullock told MTN News.
More than 40,000 boats have already been inspected this season at the 30 watercraft inspection stations the state operates. To date, 16 boats with invasive mussels have been intercepted coming into Montana.
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Mark R Thorsell