CLEARWATER JUNCTION — Memorial Day weekend brings boaters and water recreators to Montana's lakes and rivers, but before you go onto any Montana water body you must get your water vehicle inspected.
However, boat inspection stops are taking extra precautions to protect boaters and themselves.
Missoula County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Lindsey Bona-Eggeman, says the boat and watercraft inspectors have been following Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) protocol since March, which includes wearing masks, hand washing, and keeping 6-feet distance from the boaters.
The inspectors also must do a daily temperature check before their shift as well as write down all the symptoms they may be feeling. “Its kind of honesty policy, as someone isn't supervising them doing, it does hold that person accountable, do I feel okay or should I be at work?," said Bona-Eggeman.
Bona-Eggeman says that she hopes this protocol helps the boaters feel more secure. “We hope that this protocol helps the boaters feel safe and I know that the inspectors feel safer as well," said Bona-Eggeman.
Bona-Eggeman also says that in the state there has been seven cases of an invasive species found on watercraft, and she says that her team has learned from the experience and is ready to inspect watercraft thoroughly.
“Our inspectors are on it, they know what they are looking for now, and they are highly alert. So, they’ve done a really good job thoroughly inspecting boats and catching a few more than normal," said Bona-Eggeman.
Bona-Eggeman wants to remind all water recreators of the A.I.S motto: Clean, Drain and Dry.
“So if your boat is clean of weeds, you cleaned off the mud, you drained your bilge, and if its dry and no standing water, you are going to go through the stations quickly," said Bona-Eggeman.
If you would like to find the nearest inspection station near you, you can visit cleandraindry.mt.gov for more information,