Record sailing season for mussels ends | New

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Char-Koosta News

RAVALLI – So far, a record 50 mussel-contaminated boats have been intercepted at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks boat inspection stations. The 50th mussel-contaminated boat was intercepted on Thursday August 26 at the Nashua station on US Highway 2. It was last launched into Lake Erie and was being transferred commercially to Kalispell. (See related story here.)

Among those 50 counts, four boats contaminated with mussels were found this summer at the inspection station managed by the Flathead Nation in Ravalli. Despite this or because of this, it has been a good season at Flathead Nation stations in Thompson Falls and Ravalli. Ravalli station performed over 15,000 inspections and Thompson Falls station nearly 4,000

“It’s been a good season, our team did well,” said Katie Finley, Flathead Nation Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Coordinator. “Even though it was smoky most of the summer – we had to close Thompson Falls for three days – it has been a pretty busy season. It went by quickly and is starting to slow down now with the cooler weather. “

Ravalli Station is literally the last bastion of defense for northbound craft on US Highway 93, which anchor primarily at Flathead Lake. The Thompson Falls station is a key defensive cog for eastbound watercraft traffic on Montana’s Hwy 200, with many watercraft also heading for Flathead Lake.

Finley said the Clean, Drain and Dry personal responsibility message for FWP mold prevention has taken hold in the state. It is also starting to make significant inroads in targeted locations and states where much of the out-of-state water traffic originates. This is very important because all of the major river basins in the United States are infested with zebra and / or quagga mussels – the Columbia River basin is the only one that is not.

“The AIS prevention message snowballed. We are part of carrying this message to the boaters who stop here, ”said Finley. “Everyone here is doing a spectacular job inspecting and delivering this message. They are very motivated to be part of the big picture of prevention. They are proud of it and I think boaters who practice cleaning, draining and drying feel good to be doing their part. This allows them to shorten inspection stops.

Another key feature of the Ravalli inspection station is the on-site presence of tribal game wardens.

“We are very fortunate to have the goalies here,” said Finley. The eight tribal gamekeepers alternate day-long inspection duties in Ravalli. Guards quickly resolve driving incidents through apprehension, warnings, education, and sometimes citations. Anyone transporting motorized or non-motorized boats in Montana is required to stop at all open boat inspection stations prior to launch. Failure to stop at an inspection station can result in a fine of up to $ 500.

Finley said communications with the FWP AIS office have continued to improve, making it easier for him and the inspectors’ staff.

According to the latest statistics published on the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau dashboard, 96,615 inspections were carried out. This included 22,001 inspections on high-risk vessels that were last launched in states known to have AIS infestations. Most of them come from the Midwest and Southwest. Clearwater Junction Station performed the most inspections with over 26,000. Last year around the same time 112,300 inspections were completed.

“I am sad to see the season come to an end,” said supervisor Lacey Parker. “It will escalate this Labor Day weekend and then after that it will be mostly Fall Mack Days traffic and people will stop for an end-of-season inspection.”

The end of season inspection means that next season a boat will not have to go through the inspection process as long as the seal remains on the boat, an indication that it has not been released. water from the previous season. Parker added that the owners of Flathead Lake marinas rely on evidence from inspections at Ravalli and Thompson Falls before allowing them to be launched and / or removed from the lake at their marinas.

“Some of us really enjoy what we’re doing here and in Thompson Falls,” Parker said. “Since Inspector Appreciation Week, we have received tons of support from the local population. Many of them stop and thank us for what we are doing. People walk by and yell at us and honk our horns. That’s why I love being here and doing what we do.

In all, there are 19 AIS inspectors working at the Thompson Falls and Ravalli inspection stations. The Thompson Falls station will close on Saturday September 18. Ravalli station will go from 24/7 coverage to 12 hour coverage on September 18 and will close on Saturday October 16.

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