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Ravalli AIS check station open 24/7

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | May 11, 2023 12:00 AM

As the tourism season amps up, the Aquatic Invasive Species inspection station in Ravalli is gearing up too, and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week beginning May 13.

According to Katie Finley-Squeque, AIS manager for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the station in Ravalli is the second busiest in the state and inspected more than 1,000 boats just over the Fourth of July weekend last year.

The Tribes, working in concert with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, also manage the check station in Thompson Falls, which is open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

“A lot of inspectors are passionate about what they do, about protecting the water for their kids and future generations,” she said. “They all understand the importance of it, so they feel a sense of doing something very important.”

Boat inspections are mandatory for any watercraft entering Montana, and again for those bringing boats into the Flathead Basin. In 2019, the Ravalli station intercepted two mussel-fouled boats, which are then decontaminated and quarantined.

Most of the crew stationed at Ravalli has been inspecting boats since 2017.

“It’s hard to find people who are passionate, dedicated and will show up every day, so I feel like we’re lucky with the people we’ve found,” Finley-Squeque says.

“They don’t really enjoy sitting in the heat all day, but they enjoy inspecting boats.”

For more on Montana’s AIS regulations, visit fwp.mt.gov/conservation/aquatic-invasive-species/watercraft-inspection-stations.