Char-Koosta News

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Blackfeet Nation to open second watercraft inspection station

From the Flathead Basin Commission

BLACKFEET RESERVATION — The Blackfeet Nation recently obtained a Tribal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant of $200,000, which will enable to the tribe to open a second Watercraft Inspection Station on the eastern side of the Reservation in May 2016. The eastern station will serve as a certification station for those boating in Mission and other east side lakes. Station inspectors will be looking for a variety of invasive species that could harm both the local economy and the aquatic environment, but the species of greatest concern are invasive zebra and quagga mussels.

Once introduced, these non-native invasive mussels rapidly blanket all hard surfaces from shorelines to manmade infrastructure. The proliferation of invasive mussels costs the U.S. millions of dollars annually. Invasive mussels foul beaches, clog dams and boat motors, drive up utility rates and result in adverse fish and wildlife impacts. And unfortunately, once introduced, it is virtually impossible to eliminate mussels from aquatic ecosystems.

In 2015, the Blackfeet Tribal government passed Ordinance 113 that required that all boats launching on Reservation waters must obtain a certificate of inspection prior to launch. Last year, the Blackfeet, recognizing that fouled boats start traveling earlier in the season, opened their first inspection station on April 9, 2015, and detected a mussel fouled boat in less than a week of opening. Ultimately, the Blackfeet Tribal AIS program, with only one inspection station, detected 40 percent of the mussel-fouled boats found in Montana.

Gerald Wagner, EPA Director, is responsible for managing the Tribe’s AIS program. Wagner explained that the Highway 2 station east of Glacier National Park will remain a mandatory Watercraft Inspection Station. “We are opening the second station on the eastern side of the Reservation as a certification station to better serve our clients in the Cut Bank area and beyond,” said Wagner. In other words, boaters will not be inconvenienced by having to stop at two mandatory inspection stations. Instead, the second station will be opened to allow boaters on the east side to more readily obtain their needed certificates of inspection.

The east side station will open before Memorial Day weekend, and will be open 7 days a week 10 hours per day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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