MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today joined state agency and tribal partners at the Ravalli watercraft inspection station to highlight partnerships and aquatic invasive species prevention efforts underway to protect Montana’s waters.
“Through partnerships between state agencies, tribes, and other organizations, we’ve expanded Montana’s aquatic invasive species inspection, monitoring and outreach programs to protect the state’s natural resources, economy and access to outdoor recreation,” Governor Bullock said. “This summer, Montanans and visitors can do their part by being sure to clean, drain, and dry their boats and gear.”
Governor Bullock heard updates from the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes and state agencies on Montana’s aquatic invasive monitoring, early detection efforts, and rapid response preparedness after invasive mussel larvae was discovered on Tiber Reservoir and a suspect sample was found on Canyon Ferry Reservoir in 2016.
Through bipartisan support during the most recent legislative session, funding was stabilized for the prevention program and the program was strengthened by including the mandatory decontamination for certain vessels with ballasts and bladders known to be highest risk for harboring AIS.
After inspecting a record number of watercraft in Montana last year, the 2019 program is focusing on expanding partner involvement as well as increasing program effectiveness and efficiency.
Goals for the aquatic invasive species program in 2019 include:
- Expand partner involvement with watercraft inspection stations to allow for local oversight and increased local participation in the AIS program. Partners, such as conservation districts can offer additional direct oversight at the stations, access a broad labor pool, and encourage local law enforcement support.
- Increase partner and public awareness of aquatic invasive species to improve chances of early detection and effective eradication or containment.
- Expand partner participation in outreach to help deliver the clean, drain, dry message in local communities. Partners provide a direct conduit for getting outreach information to key audiences, including boaters, irrigators and the agricultural community.
Over 40,000 boats have already been inspected this season at the 30 watercraft inspection stations the state operates. To date, 16 boats with invasive mussels have been intercepted coming into Montana. During peak days like 4th of July weekend, stations will inspect upwards of 2,000 boats statewide.
Governor Bullock also emphasized the role Montanans and visitors play in preventing aquatic invasive species. Boat owners and anglers should follow the principles of clean, drain, dry to help protect Montana’s waters:
- Clean mud and debris from watercraft, trailer, waders and fishing equipment.
- Pull drain plugs to make sure all compartments, bilges and ballasts are drained.
- Dry out watercraft, including dry wells, storage areas and compartments.