You're still a long way away from putting the boat into your favorite Montana lake.

However, this is that year… and that time of the year… when boat owners should start leaning into the simple process of replacing their validation decals from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

The decals help to provide identification for Montana's vessels and are required for all motorboats, sailboats, or personal watercraft. That basically covers everything over 12 feet or length. Non-motorized sailboats smaller than 12 feet, as well as manually propelled craft such as rowboats, kayaks, and canoes don't need a decal, regardless of length.

While many Montana boaters opt to permanently register their craft, FWP still requires the free decals to be swapped out every third year. The current red stickers will expire on February 28th and should be removed and replaced with a new decal good until 2026.

Those decals can be obtained at FWP regional offices, such as the one on Spurgin Road in Missoula. Or you can simply apply on the FWP website and the state will send you the new stickers. You do need to have the boat registration information from the receipt issued by the county treasurer.

If you're one of the lucky people who has a new boat or personal watercraft that hasn't been registered yet, the first set of decals comes when you complete the process at the local county treasurer's office.

There's more information on the FWP website, including details of what to do with homemade boats, or by calling 406-444-2535 with any questions.

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