The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission has adopted a temporary emergency boating restriction on Echo Lake east of Kalispell. All watercraft on Echo Lake are limited to a controlled no wake speed (watercraft can’t create visible white water in the track of the vessel), in order to reduce damage to shoreline and homes around the lake.
The Flathead County Board of Commissioners requested the restriction in response to requests from residents on the lake and also, because the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services is observing damage to homes and structures at the current water levels.
The FWP Commission announced that this rule is in effect as long as water levels are high on Echo Lake. The commission delegated its authority to the FWP in consultation with the FWP Commissioner in the region, to determine when wakes from motorized use will no longer pose a threat to public health and human safety and rescinds the temporary emergency closure.
The FWP Commission took this action for the following reasons:
1. Echo Lake is mostly ground water fed. The water level has far exceeded normal full pool and will most likely continue to rise due to the existing snow pack still in the drainage. As of today, there is still 91 inches of snow and 48 inches of water content at the Noisy Basin Snotel site located just east of Echo Lake.
2. Echo Lake does not have an outlet to drain excess water.
3. Residents have been building protective structures, such as sandbags, around their homes.
4. In the current condition, wake speeds create wave action subjecting buildings, homes, and structures to damage.