Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) held a meeting on February 28 with FWP staff and stakeholder partners to solicit input on the locations and running times for 2013 watercraft inspection stations around the state. FWP will also be running stations in Eurasian watermilfoil management areas that had previously been run by the Department of Agriculture. This change has significantly increased staffing and management needs for the summer. Based on input from attendees and available funding, the following stations are slated for the 2013 season:
Watercraft inspection station staff training will occur May 8-10 and stations will open in the following two weeks. The Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) management staff will be sending start times and station schedules to the FWP Regions prior to the start of work. The 2013 effort will be significantly larger than 2012, which was significantly larger than in 2011, and 2010, etc. As the AIS program grows we are increasingly dependent on FWP regional staff for feedback and assistance in ensuring that crews are safe and doing a good job. FWP looks forward to a productive season.
Even though FWP's watercraft inspection stations are not open yet, AIS management staff is already involved with inspecting and monitoring boat traffic. Staff monitors all commercially hauled watercraft that passes through the state. If the boat is simply passing through then FWP forwards all pertinent information on to neighboring states. If the boat is launching in Montana FWP follows up with the hauler, gets more information on the boat, and then arranges for an inspection if deemed necessary. For example, this week Jayden Duckworth Region 1 AIS technician will be inspecting 7 barges that are being brought into the state for use in a large project on Lake Koocanusa.
Sometimes the AIS management staff is also called upon to follow up on specific boats that had been red-flagged for various reasons. Last month Idaho contacted FWP to alert that a large cabin cruiser that had originated from Lake Mead and passed through their Malad station and may have mussels on it. As the final destination was purported to be British Columbia, BC officials asked if it would be possible for FWP AIS management staff to re-inspect the boat prior as it passed through Montana if the driver was willing. With the help from FWP's enforcement division we were able to track down the driver of the vehicle hauling the boat and arranged for a voluntary inspection as the driver passed through Helena. Numerous quagga mussels were found on the boat, but all were dead and the boat was allowed to proceed to BC, where officials would follow up. This incident showcases the excellent coordination and cooperation between regional states and provinces.
In an effort to increase AIS awareness and education throughout the agency and especially seasonal workers such as Fishing Access Site summer staff, AIS management staff will be providing training opportunities to the FWP Regions this spring and early summer. This training will focus on increasing awareness so staff will know how to recognize high-risk boats and equipment, AIS in the field, or other potential AIS violations and what to do if they see suspect vessels or organisms.
Allison Begley FWP AIS Coordinator attended a workshop in Dover, ID to discuss Prevention and Control of AIS in the Columbia River Basin. There was a great local turn out to this meeting from various organizations or agencies, and increased collaboration will hopefully follow. Allison also attended a meeting with federal and state representatives to discuss the distribution of federal funding for quagga mussel funding to prevent the spread in the Western Region.
Stacy Schmidt AIS technician attended the International Didymo Conference in Providence, RI. This conference was well attended despite the recent federal sequester, and included presentations from many of the leading researchers in the field. "Didymo" or Didymosphenia geminata is a species of diatom that blooms in freshwater streams and rivers. The evidence seems to indicate that Didymo is native to Montana. Further research is being conducted as it is likely invasive to other regions of the U.S. as well as other countries where its "blooms" can be problematic. There were multiple presentations on the alterations it causes to the benthic communities, and by which nutrients it is limited. Causes of the nuisance blooms were discussed in-depth and more research is currently being conducted. For more information, please go to International Didymo Conference.
FWP is currently accepting applications for Fisheries Technicians to staff our watercraft inspection stations for the 2013 Field Season. Applications will be accepted until March 1, 2013 or until all positions are filled. Please go to the State of Montana Job Listings to apply online.
All of FWP's watercraft inspection stations officially closed on October 14th. The unofficial total of boat inspected during the season is 21,762, with 16,854 from in-state and 4,908 boats from out-of-state. The final number will be available, along with a full report of the season, in late December. Staff is currently entering the data collected from the interview forms, which is vital in setting priorities for the AIS Program. Data from the surveys illustrate boater movement, boater knowledge of AIS, boater behavior, and what forms of outreach are reaching the most water users. This information helps the agency determine which waterbodies are most at risk, where to put watercraft inspection stations, what days and times to operate them, what public outreach is most effective, and much more.
The table below shows a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 14) through October 14th.
|Station||In State||Out of State||Boats w/
|Boats w/ Vegetation||Standing Water||New Zealand Mudsnails||Other*|
*Other includes two cases of marine organisms, two cases of illegal bait, and one case of illegal live fish.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has been conducting aquatic invasive species monitoring/early detection activities for the past 8 years. Early detection is used to find small or source AIS populations, while monitoring is used to study population trends. FWP monitors for all prioritized invasive species, including (but not limited to): zebra/quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and Eurasian watermilfoil. Montana utilizes a variety of techniques in monitoring for AIS species including: plankton sampling, invertebrate sampling, macrophyte sampling, cross polarized light microscopy, PCR testing, and pathogen testing in fish. Wild sites are any sites not considered a hatchery, wild fish transfer or private pond (not included in graph). These wild sites include multiple locations on single waterbodies. Other agencies assist in FWP's efforts by collecting plankton samples for analysis at FWP's Dreissenid Lab in Helena (Whitefish Lake Institute, Bureau of Reclamation, Clearwater Resource Council, National Park Service, Department of Agriculture, and the USCG).
The season has wound down for the year and most of our stations are closed with the exception of Ronan, which is still open Thursdays-Sundays until mid-October to cover the start of Mac Days on Flathead Lake. We also have our roving inspector in the Bitterroot still working, and one Helena roving team that is visiting some eastern waters such as Tongue River Reservoir, Cooney Lake, and the Big Horn until mid-October. All AIS crews will be done by October 14th.
As of September 24 watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 21,247 boats¿16,415 from in-state and 4,832 from out-of-state. Crews continue to find a lot of vegetation on boats, including another case of EWM, again at Dena Mora. Crews also continue to find standing water in boats, particularly in the bilge area. However, crews are reporting that more and more boat owners are showing up at stations with their plugs out, and boat owners are saying that is a direct response to the information they have received from previous inspections on the importance of having a drained and dry boat. Again, great job by our crews in getting that vital message across to the public.
The table below shows a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 14) through September 24.
|Station||In State||Out of State||Boats w/ Zebra or Quagga Mussels||Boats w/ Vegetation||Standing Water||New Zealand Mudsnails||Other|
Quagga Mussels - boat inspectionNew Zealand Mudsnails - Darlington Ditch
As of August 27 watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 18,183 boats¿14179 from in-state and 4004 from out-of-state. Those numbers represent individual boats and do not include repeat inspections. In the past two weeks FWP crews have seen a lot of action. The Bitterroot roving crew found and decontaminated an out-of-state vessel with quagga mussel shells on it, the Culbertson crew intercepted illegal minnows on two occasions, the Clearwater crew intercepted live yellow perch, and most stations have been finding a lot of vegetation, including another case of EWM, this time at Dena Mora. Kudos to all the great crews!
The table below shows a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 14) through August 29.
|Station||In State||Out of State||Boats w/ Zebra or Quagga Mussels||Boats w/ Vegetation||Standing Water||New Zealand Mudsnails||Other|
|TOTAL BOATS: 18,183|
These numbers do not include other inspection activities that FWP also regularly conducts. All commercially hauled boats entering the state are tracked and boats that are destined for Montana are inspected prior to launching. Information on commercial boats passing through the state is sent to neighboring states so their inspection stations can be as prepared as possible. FWP also conducts inspections on barges and other large equipment that enters the state to do clean-up work, construction, and other heavy-duty work in or near waterbodies.
As the fall approaches some stations have been closed and others have been operating at reduced hours to accommodate staff who had to return to school and other commitments. However, Clearwater Junction, which was already the busiest watercraft inspection station, began checking westbound boats as well as eastbound, following approval to operate outside of standard departmental policy. Some staff have been reprioritized to help handle the resulting increase in traffic through that station. Closed stations include Hardin and Culbertson, and stations at reduced hours include Dena Mora, Dillon, and Helena Roving.
2012 AIS Hatchery Inspection2012 AIS Hatchery Inspection
Net Winged MidgeCurly Leaf Pondweed
As of July 28, 2012, watercraft inspection crews have inspected almost 12,000 boats - 9256 from in-state and 2649 from out-of-state. Each inspection recorded below represents a unique inspection, i.e. repeat inspections are not included. In the past two weeks, crews have intercepted 1 watercraft with New Zealand mudsnails, and 1 watercraft with an as-of-yet unidentified Dreissenid mussel (e.g. Zebra or Quagga mussels). Through the course of the inspection season, crews have intercepted a handful of boats with Eurasian watermilfoil.
|Station||In-State||Out-of-State||Boats with Zebra or Quagga Mussels||Boats with Vegetation||Standing Water||Other|
*New Zealand mudsnails
**Marine organism (e.g. barnacles)
As of July 9 watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 8,225 boats—6,575 from in-state and 1,650 from out-of-state. Those numbers represent individual boats and does not include repeat inspections. There have been no reports of Dreissenid mussel-infested boats at FWP inspection stations in the past two weeks, although a boat with marine mussels on it was intercepted at Wibaux.
As of June 25 watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 4,567 boats—3,982 from in-state and 585 from out-of-state. Those numbers represent individual boats and does not include repeat inspections. There have been no reports of mussel-infested boats at FWP inspection stations in the past two weeks. Vegetation was pulled from one boat at Clearwater Junction, but it was determined to be a native moss.
|Station||In-State||Out-of-State||Boats with Mussels||Boats with Vegetation|
*Has not been updated since last report.
As of June 8 watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 1870 boats-1577 from in-state and 293 from out-of-state. Dead zebra mussel shells were found on two boats, both of which were destined for Washington.
The table below shows a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season through June 8. Some stations are not operational yet, but those will be added in the coming weeks.
|Station||In-State||Out-of-State||Boats with Mussels|
As of May 23 all 13 FWP watercraft inspection stations crews have been deployed and are running smoothly. Seasonally permanent stations have been established at:
Roving crews will be opering in:
Watercraft Inspection Stations for the 2012 field season will be up and running in mid-May. Inspection stations are located at border crossings and key travel routes throughout the state. Roving waterbody stations will be set up at many waterbodies, including the Swan and Bitterroot Valleys, the Madison River, Fort Peck, the Upper Missouri, Hi-Line reservoirs, and others. It is mandatory for watercraft to stop at inspection stations.
Staff for all stations have been hired and have completed a two-day training. Additional staff in eastern Montana is still needed so please call if you or someone you know is interested.
Remember that having a clean, drained and dried boat will expedite you through inspection stations and prevent the spread of invasive species. We look forward to seeing you out there.
The best location for the check station is still being determined. Not very many boats stopped. Some boats went by the check station without stopping, but until the new signs are in, there isn't a lot we can do. The inspector noted everyone from MIchigan that was spoken to was well aware of Zebra Mussels. Folks from Minnesota and Alabama are very familiar with Milfoil
The Third Fly Fishing Film Tour in Craig, MT hosted a large crowd of people on Saturday, June 25th. Activities started in the afternoon and the film tour started at dusk and ran well into the night. FWP set up an AIS booth with goodies and information which was well received by the public. Other booths included: Bug Life Fishing Gear, Simms, Costa, Headhunters Fly Shop, and Adipose Boatworks. A box of educational materials, sponges and brushes were given to Adipose Boatworks to distribute with their new boats.