The first watercraft inspection stations of 2019 will open this month in Kalispell, Ravalli and Browning. Watercraft inspection stations are Montana’s first line of defense to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species.
The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1 office in Kalispell began to offer boat inspections seven days a week starting March 13. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes plan to open the Ravalli watercraft inspection station on Highway 200 on March 15. The Blackfeet Nation expects to open a station in Browning later this month.
Boat owners should ensure their watercraft and trailers are clean, drained and dry before transport and need to be aware of Montana’s inspection rules:
All watercraft coming into Montana from out of state must be inspected prior to launching.
All watercraft traveling west across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin must be inspected prior to launching.
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.
Snowbirds returning to Montana with a watercraft must seek out an inspection. Watercraft that have been used in mussel-infested waters in other states are of major concern. Boat owners returning to Montana must have their vessel inspected at a Montana watercraft inspection station, even if the watercraft was checked in another state.
To accommodate these rules, inspection stations are set up across Montana during the boating season. Additional inspection stations will open in April and May as the weather warms and boat traffic increases.
Watercraft can also be inspected at any Fish Wildlife & Parks area or regional office. For a full list and map along with other information, visit cleandraindrymt.com or call 406-444-2440.
FWP encourages boaters to ‘Keep Your Edge’ this boating season
It may not feel like boating season yet, but Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks -- along with boating safety advocates nationwide -- are urging boaters to #KeepYourEdge by enrolling in a boating education course this spring.
FWP is participating in the national Spring Aboard -- Take A Boating Education Course campaign. The Spring Aboard campaign encourages boaters to get educated prior to the kick-off of the boating season so they can make the most out of their time on the water.
A boating safety course provides critical boating knowledge that anyone who plans to get out on the water should have, and better prepares you for the risks you may face while boating.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.
FWP is partnering with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to inform boaters about the benefits and necessity of taking a boating education course.
Montana law requires youth ages 13 and 14 who plan to operate a motorboat, jet ski or other personal watercraft with 10 horsepower motor or more to have a valid motorboat operator’s safety certificate or be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older.
Discounts and other incentives are being offered nationwide to boaters who enroll in or complete a boating safety course during the week of Spring Aboard, March 17 to 23. Boaters are encouraged to take a boating safety course if they have never taken one before, or to take a course as a refresher in order to prepare for the boating season ahead.
To learn more about available courses, visit springaboard.org or http://fwp.mt.gov/education/outdoorRec/boatingFloatingKayaking/.
With today’s wide variety of courses available -- from classroom courses to online offerings -- there’s a course for every boater and every schedule.
The annual Spring Aboard campaign is led by NASBLA and produced under a grant administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.
If you have any questions about Montana courses, please contact Sara Smith, boating education coordinator for FWP’s Recreational Boating Safety Program, at 406-444-5280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Comment Opens for Proposed LWCF and OHV Grant Applications
Montana State Parks -- stateparks.mt.gov -- is seeking public comment on proposed 2019 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Grant awards for the current grant cycle which closed on February 28, 2019. Public comments will be accepted through Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 5 p.m.
Shed hunters should give wildlife a break
Late winter can be a stressful time for deer and elk with deep snow, limited food options and depleted fat reserves.
That’s why Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is asking shed hunters and other recreationists to give deer and elk their space until the snow melts and the animals are less stressed.
Shed hunting – looking for antlers shed each year in the winter by male elk and deer so they can regrow a new pair – has become increasingly popular in recent years and more competitive.
While it is illegal to trespass on FWP’s wildlife management areas before they open (most of the Region 3 WMAs open at noon on May 15), chasing deer and elk on accessible lands stresses the animals.
Snowmobilers, skiers and snowshoers should avoid areas where animals are bedded down. It is safest to admire them at a distance. That’s especially true when dogs are involved.
It’s critical that dogs be kept on a leash when deer and elk are present and not chase them. The stress of a chase alone can eventually lead to the death of the animal.
Pets can be injured or killed while attempting to take down an animal big or small, and dog owners may be cited for permitting a dog to harass wildlife.
Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board to Meet March 20 in Kalispell
The Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board will meet Wednesday, March 20 at the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1 headquarters in Kalispell. Board Chair, Pelah Hoyt, invites all interested persons to attend.
The board is composed of tribal and state members and a representative of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The board is advisory to the state and tribes and is responsible for the development of cooperative management plans, which include fishing and bird hunting regulations.
Location: FWP, R1 Kalispell, Public Meeting Room, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell, MT 59901; Phone: 406-752-5501