Be A Boat Inspection Station Pro

This August 2-8, we’re celebrating the first ever Watercraft Inspector Appreciation Week with our partners at Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and Protect Our Waters Montana. Thanks to our inspectors, aquatic invasive species (AIS) spread is being reduced in our waterways, and we owe them our gratitude and our courtesy when we pull through the station. We know it’s tough to be patient at the boat check when you’re excited to get out on the water, so here are a few tips to make your inspection a breeze.

Clean, Drain, and Dry your gear and watercraft after every use!

Thanks to the magic of self-serve carwashes, this step is easier than ever! Find the closest wash bays near your home (most take credit cards now) and make cleaning out your boat part of your chores at the end of a day on the water. The best time to wash everything is right before you put your boat into dry dock. Pull the plugs on your vessel and allow all water to drain out of your bilge, live wells, bait wells, and motor. Store your boat with the motor in the down position. All inspectors check your motor and if it’s already empty, you just saved yourself a few minutes waiting for it to drain.

Make sure your anchor and anchor rope are clean of mud and vegetation.

If you’ve got some mud and weeds on there, clean them off and also mind your anchor rope to make sure it’s also clean and dry. It’s easy for small bits to get stuck in pulleys, cleats, and fasteners. Anytime you pull your anchor up off the bottom of the lake or river, make sure to get it clean before you put it back in the boat. Makes cleaning up later even easier. This also goes for removing weeds from your lure. Keep the weeds in the water, not in your boat.

Ask yourself “Where and when did I go boating last?”

If you know you’re about to hit the check station, run through your memory banks before you pull in. Inspectors will always ask where you were, how long it’s been, and where you plan to go next. If you’ve recently been in a waterbody with AIS concerns, know that you’re going to get some extra scrutiny. It helps if all your gear is clean and dry!

Get an Inspection Passport for Each Boat and Keep them Handy

If you’re a “frequent flyer” ask your inspector for a Boat Passport for each vessel. Keep them in the glove box of the car you use to tow. Then you’ll always have them for the inspectors when you pull through.

Be courteous!

No body likes a grumpy person. When you remain polite and courteous to your watercraft inspectors, they will get through your inspection faster, guaranteed. The only thing you get out of making a fuss is a longer inspection. Be prepared, answer the questions you’re asked, follow instructions, and they’ll get you on your way as quick as they can.




Aquatic Invasive Species prevention a high priority

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pose critical threats to Montana’s waterways.  Montana Trout Unlimited has been busy lobbying for adequate funding for the State’s AIS Program this legislative session.  HB 608 proposes a $50 fee and mandatory decontamination of boats with ballasts or bladders when they enter the state or cross the continental divide.  Read more here.  

Tell your legislator and House and Senate Natural Resource Committee members to SUPPORT HB411, which funds the state’s Aquatic Invasive Species program

On Friday, February 22, at 3pm in Room 172 the House Natural Resources Committee of the Montana Legislature will be hearing a bill sponsored by Rep Willis Curdy (D-Missoula).  We have reviewed and commented on this critical appropriations bill extensively.  We are advocating that the $13 million it appropriates to prevent and contain the spread of aquatic invasive species in our rivers and lakes be funded by the diverse community of stakeholders that are affected by the negative impacts of AIS. Last month the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation estimated that invasive mussels alone could cost Montana $234 million annual mitigation and lost-revenue costs.  The three economic sectors that are at greatest risk are recreation, agriculture, and water infrastructure such as hydroelectric facilities.  At a minimum, the bill should require funding from the following sources:

  • Anglers have and should continue to help pay for Montana’s AIS program. In the previous funding bill, resident and non-resident anglers contributed through an AIS license that was required to hold a fishing license in the state. That provision should remain in the new funding bill.
  • Because boats are both a vector for transporting AIS and are at risk of damage because of some AIS, like invasive mussels, boaters should also contribute to this fund. The current version of the bill includes a range of fees assessed on boats depending on whether they are motorized or non-motorized and size. We support this source of funding.
  • Hydroelectric facilities face some of the greatest financial risks with the potential spread of AIS, especially invasive mussels. Hydroelectric facilities contributed to the 2017 version of the AIS funding mechanism and should remain in any bill the 2019 Legislature considers. DNRC’s study showed that infrastructure could suffer an estimated $47 million/year impact from invasive mussels.
  • According to the same DNRC study, “the direct impact of invasive mussels to agriculture is estimated to be $5.75 per acre foot or $61 million per year.” Investing in the prevention of this risk should be a priority for the agricultural economy and community in Montana.

Tell Legislators that HB411 is critical to containing and preventing the spread of AIS in Montana and ensuring the future health of our fisheries, agriculture, hydropower, property values, recreation, and way of life.  Fully funding the AIS program should include investment from anglers, boaters, hydroelectric facilities, and the agricultural community, at the least. 

Contact members of the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees about this bill now and ask for their support.  You can leave a message for legislators by clicking here or at the Capitol switchboard: 444-4800.   If you use the website link, you will need to fill out the form with general contact information, select the appropriate committee, select “for” HB411, and write a short comment.  The contact form will only allow you to send the message to one recipient at a time.  Please copy your message and submit it to both the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees.

If you have questions or thoughts on this or any other legislative priority, please feel free to contact MTU’s full-time Government Affairs Coordinator, Clayton Elliot, [email protected]

MTU Gov’t Affairs Director, Clayton Elliott, speaks out on AIS funding

The Montana State Legislature is grappling with funding mechanisms to support aquatic invasive species prevention.  Anglers should be eager to pay their share in fighting AIS. Clayton Elliott states,“Outdoor recreation and the angling community is a significant industry in Montana that stands to lose a lot, just like agriculture, our municipalities, etc, etc. The difference is we’re the only ones being asked to pay. The burden can’t just be on anglers and recreationalists.”

Check out MTPR’s coverage of AIS funding.