A legislatively mandated pilot program designed to enhance protection from invasive mussels in the Flathead Basin is facing challenges on two fronts.
As part of HB 622, the Legislature gave the Flathead Basin Commission authority to establish and manage the Upper Columbia pilot program. The program would add more certification stations, track vessels that require decontamination, and add the use of automated inspection and detection devices.
The commission also could petition the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules for the Flathead Basin that would require inspection of all vessels before they launch; prohibit or restrict some vessels, including waterborne airplanes and aquatic weed harvesters; and close waters where invasive mussels have been detected until a containment strategy was implemented. Click on the following two links below to access the full story.
The pilot program would have been paid for by requiring boat owners launching boats in the basin to purchase a sticker. The sticker program was expected to raise between $1 million to $1.5 million. But Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said the legislation did not provide that agency with the authority to write the rules that would require boat owners to purchase a sticker.