COVID-19 prompts changes at Montana AIS check stations

Ravalli AIS
Posted at 9:51 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 11:51:45-04

HELENA — Aquatic Inspection Species check stations are continuing to open up across Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) notes that AIS watercraft inspections have been designated as an essential service and inspectors continue to check boats across the state.

Watercraft inspector trainings are proceeding, and additional COVID-19 protocols are in place at inspection station to keep inspectors and the public safe.

The monitoring program is gearing up for training and will begin sampling in late May. Additionally, the AIS Dreissenid Lab will begin processing samples from Missouri River Basin states this month.

Despite travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, FWP reports in a news release that it's still seeing a lot of out-of-state boats and a lot of movement of mussels.

Watercraft inspection stations have opened around the state and will continue to open through Memorial Day. It should be noted that some station openings have been slightly delayed in order to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols for training and operation.

Changes for 2020 include new COVID-19 safety requirements, an updated training curriculum, new quality assurance and quality control protocols and targeted enforcement to address compliance.

COVID-19 safety protocols include mandatory six-foot social distancing, requiring staff to wear masks when interacting with the public and regular cleaning of equipment and surfaces.

FWP reports that as of May 12, more than 6,500 watercraft have been inspected this season. Seven mussel fouled vessels have been intercepted so far this season at the Dillon and Anaconda stations.

  • March 16: Arizona to Creston, BC
  • March 21: Lake Havasu, AZ to Jordon, MT
  • March 24: Lake Havasu, AZ to Lloydminster, AB
  • April 22: Lake Pleasant, AZ to Priest River, ID
  • April 29: Lake Havasu, AZ to Hauser Lake, MT
  • May 1: Lake Havasu, AZ to Columbia Falls, MT
  • May 2: Mississippi River, IA to Lakeside, MT

More information on watercraft inspection operations can be found here.