Several of Montana’s first watercraft inspection stations have opened for the 2021 season. In at least one instance, it's probably a good thing.

Inspection stations near Dillon and Ravalli opened earlier this month. And, with spring just hours old, the Anaconda station opened Saturday and intercepted the first mussel-fouled boat of the year.  A used motorboat that had been recently purchased in Wisconsin was found with zebra mussels attached to the anchor.  The Anaconda inspectors reported the mussels were dry and dead. The motorboat was en route to Sandpoint, Idaho.

Watercraft inspection stations are Montana’s first line of defense to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species (AIS) which can have devastating impacts on Montana waterways. Boat owners should ensure their watercraft, trailers and gear are clean, drained and dry before transporting and need to be aware of Montana’s inspection rules, which also apply to items like SUPs (stand-up paddleboards) float tubes and kayaks.

All watercraft coming into Montana from out of state, traveling west across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin and all watercraft launching anywhere within the Flathead Basin that were last launched on waters outside of the Flathead Basin must be inspected. Anyone transporting watercraft must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter.

Watercraft that have been used in mussel-infested waters in other states are of major concern. While very few inspection stations in Montana are open yet, here's hoping some of the early-season stations that are open are strategically placed to inspect as many as possible.

Here are a few more in our part of the state that are scheduled to open fairly soon with their projected opening date:

Clearwater Junction, April 17

Thompson Falls, April 23

St. Regis, April 30

Helena.U.S. Highway 12, May 1

Whitefish Lake, May 1

Sula, May 22

If you need a more detailed list, Montana FWP has that for you here.


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