AIS inspection stations begin checking watercraft for season

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The Whitefish Lake Institute, city of Whitefish, and Whitefish Lake State Park last week opened Whitefish Lake watercraft inspection stations and the prevention and decontamination station.

The Our Lake, Our Future Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program was designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to area waterbodies. This comprehensive program includes inspection stations at the Whitefish City Beach and Whitefish Lake State Park boat launches, a Prevention and Decontamination Station, education and outreach, and three online self-certification programs for watercraft users.

The AIS prevention and decontamination station has moved to the west side of Highway 93, across from Don K just north of JP Road. Staff are housed in Glacier Nordic Club’s building, which was loaned to WLI for the boating season while not in use and the site was donated by the Don K car dealership.

All watercraft entering Whitefish Lake are required to undergo AIS inspection, and in some cases are required to undergo decontamination before entering.

“The greatest concern is for zebra mussels which were first documented on the east side of the Continental Divide in Montana in late 2016,” noted Lori Curtis, Science & Education Director for WLI and Chair of the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission.

The city of Whitefish watercraft inspection station hours at City Beach are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in May and September, and June through August are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The station has extended hours on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

The Whitefish Lake State Park watercraft inspection station hours are May through September, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Whitefish prevention and decontamination station hours are May and September 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and June through August 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The station is open until 8 p.m. on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

In an effort to address low-risk watercraft, early morning anglers, and to improve traffic flow at the inspection stations, three online programs are available. All three programs are designed to provide access to watercraft users willing to learn the risks and take appropriate steps to prevent the introduction of AIS to Whitefish Lake. The programs are:

The non-motorized, hand-launched online self-certification program is for educating users of watercraft such as kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and float tubes about AIS prevention protocols. Test takers who pass receive a certificate and annual sticker for their watercraft.

The off-season online self-certification program is for Oct. 1 to April 30 for motorized and non-motorized watercraft users to receive a certificate and code to open the locked gate at either City Beach or Whitefish State Park.

The early angler program provides an opportunity for anglers to receive a certificate and code to open the locked gates prior to watercraft station open hours.

All programs are available by clicking the Our Lake, Our Future logo from WLI’s home page www.whitefishlake.org

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