Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Rocky Mountain Adventure Gear - For all Your Motorized and Non-Motorized Adventures!

By Joann Wallenburn
Clearwater Resource Council 

The AIS Gold Standard


At a recent two-day training session for watercraft inspection and decontamination in Kalispell, Whitefish Lake Institute gave a short presentation on the plan to protect Whitefish Lake. It has to be the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Gold Standard in Montana.

There are two public boat launches: one at Whitefish Lake State Park and one at Whitefish City Beach Park. From May 1 to Sept. 30, both launches will be open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The launches will be physically closed during off hours. Onsite inspectors, many of whom were in the training class, will inspect all watercraft. Certain types of complex watercraft will require decontamination before launching.

Kayakers, canoeists and other non-motorized boaters who frequent Whitefish Lake may register as a local boater if they study a tutorial, take an exam and pass with a score of 100 percent. Whoa!!! They will receive decals for all their non-motorized watercraft and will not require full inspection to use the launch.

Motorized boaters must still be inspected upon entry but will be ‘sealed’ as they leave. If they return with the seal unbroken, their inspection will be abbreviated. After Sept. 30, motorized boaters who have studied the same tutorial and passed the test, will receive a key code to the gate at the launch and will be able to boat on Whitefish Lake until ice-on.

Rocky Mountain Adventure Gear - For all Your Motorized and Non-Motorized Adventures!

I keep going back to what we learned last fall, 108 boats that stopped at inspection stations (and who knows how many that didn’t) came to our lakes from mussel-fouled waters. We don’t even know yet if we dodged the bullet. We plan to begin sampling next week, if the waters get warm enough! There’s more snow on the mountains this morning.

Water recreation in Montana has been irreversibly altered and everyone is urged to adopt the Clean, Drain, Dry practice after being in the water.

Clean your boat, trailer, other watercraft, fishing gear, etc. of all mud, plant and animal matter. Don’t forget Fido!

Drain all compartments including bait buckets, live wells, ballast tanks, the bilge and the motor. These steps should be taken before leaving the lake or river access site. Was anything left out? Don’t forget to pull your plug – and don’t forget to put it back after the boat has dried out.

And that takes us to Dry all equipment and your boat. If you are taking your boat to a different water body, let it dry for several days in between. Hot days preferably.

Mussel larvae can be moved from lake to lake in standing water. Attached adult mussels can survive up to 30 days in cool, moist conditions – like now. Adult mussels can attach to your boat and drop off later. They can be felt and initially feel like sandpaper on the hull of your boat. As they grow, they look like sesame seeds until they finally grow large enough to be recognized as an attached mussel.

Native mussels are unable to attach to structures. If you have a mussel stuck to your boat, it’s probably an invasive mussel. Contact MT FWP (1-800-TIPMONT) to arrange to have your boat decontaminated at once.

We want our lakes to remain mussel-free and enjoyable to use for generations to come. A few extra minutes of care will go a long way to preventing the spread of these awful critters.

If you’d like to help in local efforts to protect our lakes, call 406-210-8453 or email


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