About a dozen strategically placed boat inspection stations are helping Montana's boaters and anglers to "stop aquatic hitchhikers" to protect more than 170,000 miles of rivers and streams and hundreds of lakes and reservoirs.
The watercraft inspection stations on Montana roads and highways serve as important reminders that Montanans and visitors have a responsibly to "inspect, clean, and dry" boats, trailers and fishing gear.
It is mandatory for boaters to stop at all state watercraft inspection stations. Boats that are clean, drained, and dry will help keep the inspection process quick and painless. Drive-bys could be stopped, asked to turn around and go through the station, and could be issued a citation.
AIS inspection stations and roving crews operate in the following locations:
The effort, carried out by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Department of Agriculture, is aimed at drawing awareness to a national problem that’s threatening to take root in the West. Department of Agriculture operates stations near Troy, Plains, Hwy200/56 and several roaming crews.
Aquatic hitchhikers are harmful aquatic plants, animals or microscopic organisms—everything from zebra mussels to whirling disease—that are easily transported from water to water via popular recreational activities like fishing and boating. The cost of invasive species damages in the U.S. amounts to more than $100 billion each year.
"Montana’s best defense against invasive species is to inspect, clean, and dry boats, trailers, and fishing gear after each use," said Ron Aasheim, FWP’s spokesman in Helena.
The campaign asks Montanans and visitors to:
For more on aquatic invasive species, go to FWP's invasive species website at fwp.mt.gov and click on Aquatic Invasive Species on the Fishing page.