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FWP is closing three aquatic invasive species check stations in low-risk areas

 Watercraft inspection station sign.
Katrin Frye
Watercraft inspection station sign.

This season, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is closing down watercraft inspection stations in areas where risk of aquatic invasive species coming from out-of-state boats is considered low.

Inspection stations at the Tiber and Fresno reservoirs in north-central Montana won’t operate this year, AIS Bureau Chief Tom Woolf said.

The Tiber and Fresno stations were set up in response to the 2016 detection of invasive mussels in the Tiber Reservoir, but testing in recent years hasn’t detected any such mussels. A check station at the Tongue River Reservoir in south-central Montana will also be shut down this season.

Data show that most boat traffic going to these water bodies are local boaters who pose low risk of carrying aquatic invasive species, Woolf said.

“Resources are going to be reallocated to two other inspection stations that weren’t funded by Fish, Wildlife and Parks last year,” Woolf said. Those stations are in Broadus and St. Xavier.

Woolf says state wildlife officials are also working with the Big Horn Conservation District to operate a check station in Hardin.

All 17 stations statewide are open for the year, and have intercepted 14 mussel-fouled boats so far, three of which were destined for Montana waters. This data is slightly lower than last year’s, but overall inspections are on pace with 2021 at about 5,500 vessels inspected.
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Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.