As of September 29th all of FWP's watercraft inspection stations have closed, although the majority closed after Labor Day. The Thompson Falls and Troy stations were kept open until September 15th to monitor EWM movement by late-season boaters, and one roving crew was kept on at Fort Peck until the end of September to help provide outreach to early-season hunters. Following are approximate numbers for the season. Data from most stations is not complete at this point.
See the AIS Inspections table (85 KB) AIS Inspections table for a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 13) through September 29, 2013.
Huge thanks again to all the support the AIS program received from local wardens and the entire Enforcement Division this summer!
|Warden Activity for AIS Issues
July 1-September 30 2013
|Citation||Written Warning||Verbal Warning||Total|
|Aquatic Invasive Species||2||82||56||140|
|Jefferson Slough with surrounding ditches and ponds||Jefferson||No new locations of Eurasian watermilfoil noted|
|Jefferson River backwaters near Three Forks||Gallatin||No new locations of Eurasian watermilfoil noted|
|Three Forks Ponds||Gallatin||No AIS|
|Missouri River – Toston to Townsend||Broadwater||Verified and hand-pulled two small patches of Eurasian watermilfoil|
|Hauser Lake – Portions||Lewis & Clark||No new locations of curlyleaf pondweed|
|Jefferson Slough with surrounding ditches and ponds||Cascade||No new locations of Eurasian watermilfoil noted|
|Missouri River from James Kipp Recreation Area downstream (with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)||Fergus & Phillips||No AIS|
|Savage Lake||Lincoln||Fragrant waterlily|
|Bull Lake – east shore, ramps, & docks||Lincoln||No AIS|
|Thompson Falls Reservoir||Sanders||Noted additional locations of flowering rush and curlyleaf pondweed No Eurasian watermilfoil noted|
Sampling efforts this year included: Full monitoring done for prioritized waterbodies both east (Stacy Schmidt) and west (Jayden Duckworth, Jim Rokosch, and Braden Lewis) of the Continental Divide.
Plankton sampling done by roving seasonal watercraft inspectors, sampling done by non-AIS FWP staff (Eileen Ryce, R6 and R7 biologists, Libby Mitigation Project and others), National Park Service (Glacier National Park) plankton sampling, and volunteers from groups such as Whitefish Lake Institute. There is not any volunteer data at this time.
Boat inspection at Yacht Basin, Canyon Ferry Lake
AIS Monitoring on the Big Hole River
As of August 16 FWP watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 23,582 boats¿19,611 from in-state and 3,971 from out-of-state. Alert inspectors have intercepted two more Dreissenid mussel-infested boats, one in Hardin and one in Wibaux. Neither boat was destined to launch in Montana. Other AIS such as EWM (7 additional cases) continue to be found, along with other vegetation, standing water, illegal bait, etc. So far this season 352 boats have failed inspection (see below).
See the AIS Inspections table (85 KB) for a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 13) through August 16, 2013.
As of July 1, additional funding has been made available for increased enforcement presence at FWP watercraft inspection stations. Wardens have always responded in cases of illegal bait and fish, when an infested boat has needed to be escorted to a secure location for decontamination, to chase down high-risk boats that failed to stop at an inspection station, and to help in cases of uncooperative boaters at check stations. With the new funding wardens are now also able to spend time at the stations pulling over ALL drive by¿s and generally providing a very welcome presence at the stations. We would like to give a huge thank you to Jim Kropp, Mike Korn, and all the wardens in the Regions who have been so willing to add this work to their already long list.
|Warden Activity for AIS Issues
|Citation||Written Warning||Verbal Warning|
|Aquatic Invasive Species||2||53||56|
Plankton samples were collected from:
On August 20, 2013, Governor Bullock met with Representative Cuff and members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, as well as staff from DNRC and FWP at the Ronan Watercraft Inspection Station. Govenor Bullock and Representative Cuffe discussed the recent changes to the AIS Act within HB586, and Rep Cuffe presented a quagga mussel infested irrigation pipe to remind the Governor of the threats that AIS present to Montana. It was an honor to have Governor Bullock visit one of FWP¿s watercraft inspection stations and draw attention to the work being done in the fight against AIS.
Allison Begley recently attended a workshop in Denver entitled ¿Building a Consensus: Watercraft Inspection Programs in the West.¿ It was a great opportunity to share ideas and information. Linnaea Schroeer met with Enforcement in Region 5 on July 18 and all R-7 staff on July 19 to provide AIS training and discuss local issues. Craig McLane presented at the Madison 2013 Annual Noxious Weed Fundraiser Aug 3 and gave an AIS presentation on AIS to a youth group on Hauser Lake on July 12.
In July 2013, Eileen Ryce received a Meritorius Service Award from the Missouri River Basin Panel AIS working group. This was to recognize her hard work as co-chair between 2010-2013.
There has been some confusion on the shift on the authority of aquatic weeds. As per the Governor's blueprint, equipment, activities (monitoring and watercraft inspections), and personnel from MT Dept. of Agriculture were transferred over to MT Dept. Fish, Wildlife & Parks on June 30, 2013. As a result, on July 1, Craig McLane has moved from MT Dept. of Agriculture over to MT Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Along with this shift MT Dept. of Agriculture is working on rulemaking to relist Eurasian watermilfoil, flowering rush, & curlyleaf pondweed on the MT Noxious Weed List from priority 1B to a priority 2B, which gives the county weed districts the ability to prioritize management in their county. At this point no official change has occurred with aquatic noxious weeds, but for more information on that process please contact Dave Burch firstname.lastname@example.org. Currently, FWP still has the same authority under the Aquatic Invasive Species Act and Craig McLane can be reached at 406-444-1224 or by email.
FAS on Missouri River below Holter Dam
New Zealand Mudsnails from Hauser Reservoir< h3 class="newGen">July 2013
The hot and sunny weather Montana has been enjoying has made for a busy couple of weeks for FWP's watercraft inspectors.
As of July 2, watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 11,967 boats—10,358 from in-state and 1609 from out-of-state. Alert inspectors have intercepted an additional three Dreissenid mussel-infested boats, including two that were destined to launch in Montana. Both those boats were intercepted by the Swan Valley roving crew and then decontaminated by the Swan crew and Jayden. Kudos to Ky Zimmerman, Braden Lewis, and Jayden Duckworth on their excellent work. The Hardin crew also continues their streak, finding another commercially hauled boat with mussels on it. That boat was treated according to that state's protocols once they arrived at their destination.
Other AIS that have been found include another instance of Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM), two more cases of illegal bait, two cases of illegal fish, and numerous cases of non-EWM aquatic vegetation and standing water. All in all, staff have found a total of 194 AIS violations so far. Great job to our inspectors in the field!
See the AIS Inspections table ( 78 KB) for a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 13) through June 30, 2013.
The FWP AIS Management Team is extremely pleased to welcome Craig McLane onboard. Craig is an aquatic plant specialist who has been working for Montana Department of Agriculture for the past several years. With the transfer of authority over aquatic plants from MDA to FWP, it made sense for Craig to make the move as well. Craig will continue to work with counties and other groups on aquatic plant surveys and other projects needing his expertise. Craig¿s new office is in the Helena FWP HQ building, but you can reach Craig at his same email as before: email@example.com Welcome Craig!
AIS staff have put on several AIS trainings in the past two weeks, including Gull Boats and RV in Missoula, Parks, FAS, Fisheries and admin staff in Region 5, and Parks, FAS, and Enforcement Staff in Region 1. Please contact Linnaea Schroeer if you would like to schedule a training for your group.
The FWP Dreissenid Lab, located in Helena, processes plankton samples for the Missouri River Basin, including Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The current status of the lab for the 2013 season is 168 samples received and 111 samples processed.
Plankton samples were collected from:
AIS Inspection Station, Hardin
AIS Inspection Station, Clearwater Junction
It has been a busy spring for the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) management staff as they have hired, trained, and deployed 68 employees for our watercraft inspection station crews for the 2013 season. This year we will have a total of 20 crews operating across the state, please see the attached map showing station locations. Helena Roving Crews will be focusing on the Missouri River, Hi-line waters, eastern waters, and Fort Peck. Anyone interested in more details on areas and waters covered by these crews please contact Stacy Schmidt.
One change for 2013 is that FWP is now operating those stations in the NW and Fort Peck area that were formerly run by Department of Agriculture (MDA), including Troy, Noxon, Thompson Falls, and Fort Peck. This change is due in part to a transition in management of aquatic weeds from MDA to FWP. MDA continues to have authority over terrestrial weeds. Another change is that Department of Transportation is now an official partner agency in the statewide AIS Program. This addition reflects the many ways that DOT provides assistance in the fight against AIS, including monitoring commercially-hauled boat traffic, providing sites for watercraft inspection stations, installing permanent signs for the stations, and more.
As of June 10 watercraft inspection crews have inspected a total of 4130 boats - 3505 from in-state and 625 from out-of-state. Alert inspectors have already intercepted a total of 5 Dreissenid mussel-infested boats that were passing through our stations. All were dead and the boats were not bound for Montana waters, so they were given a basic cleaning at our station and the destination state was alerted. Those boats will be treated according to that state¿s protocols once they arrive at their destination. An additional two boats were called in, meaning members of the public or other agencies asked FWP to look at suspicious watercraft. Both of these boats were found to have mussels, and one was ultimately destined for Flathead Lake so that boat was given a complete, 5-hour decontamination by FWP crew members with the assistance of Gull Boats in Missoula. The other boat was headed for Canada so the appropriate provinces were alerted and the boat was allowed to proceed. The 8th Dreissenid-mussel boat was a boat that passed through our Dillon station and passed inspection but was then found to have some mussels on it by an Alberta inspector. While we are disappointed that one of our crews missed a mussel-infested boat, the incident illustrates the excellent communication and coordination we have with our AIS counterparts in the Region. Additionally, the Dillon crew had attached a tamper-proof seal to this boat and the Alberta inspectors found this seal intact which indicates that the boat never launched in Montana waters. We continue to work on improving our crew¿s accuracy and effectiveness. Overall we believe they do a great job.
Other AIS that have been found include one instance of Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM), 14 findings of non-EWM aquatic vegetation,13 instances of standing water, 1 case of illegal live bait (out-of-state leeches with no bill of sale), and 2 cases of marine organisms. All in all, staff have found a total of 39 AIS violations so far. Great job to our inspectors in the field!
As FWP gains more authority for AIS activities and expands the program, it is more critical than ever that we work closely with our Enforcement staff. An AIS Field memo detailing recent changes and current priorities has been prepared by Jim Kropp and Mike Korn and distributed to all Enforcement staff. Thanks to Jim, Mike, Brian Shinn, and all the wardens who have been of assistance to our staff this year and last. We also thank R6 wardens for making the effort to come and meet all the watercraft inspectors on opening day in May. Meeting our staff in person goes a long way towards making them comfortable in placing calls to enforcement and following protocols correctly.
See AIS Inspections table ( 57 KB) for a summary of the number of inspections done at our seasonally permanent and roving watercraft inspection stations from the beginning of the season (May 13) through June 10, 2013.
May 29th, Hatchery Inspection, BC, Canada. Plankton samples collected from:
AIS staff have been busy providing training to FWP staff, particularly FAS and Parks summer staff and Enforcement. So far we have met with R2 Fisheries and FAS staff, R5 Fisheries, Parks, FAS and admin support, and R1 Parks, FAS, and Enforcement. Training includes an overview of the AIS Program, how to identify different species of AIS, what to do if you see something suspicious in the field, and when and how enforcement should be involved. Any group that would like to receive this training please contact Linnaea Schroeer. AIS staff have also provided training to other groups outside of FWP, including the Harbor Association at Marina Cay in Bigfork.
Allison Begley was able to attend the Columbia River Basin Team meeting in Vancouver, WA in May 2013. This meeting was held jointly with the Preventing an Invasion: Building a Regional Defense against Quagga Zebra Mussels Workshop. Preventing an Invasion was sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and brought together a unique group of AIS coordinators, private sector groups and legislators, including Representative Mike Cuffe of Eureka, MT.
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.