AIS Boat Inspection Program
The Whitefish Lake Institute, under agreement with the City of Whitefish, was tasked with developing content for an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Commercial Use Online Self-Certification Program.
AIS Watercraft Issue
Once established, Aquatic Invasive Species can destroy waterways. Invasive mussels, for instance, reproduce so rapidly that their sharp shells blanket shorelines so that footwear must be worn to walk the area. They attach themselves to water circulation systems on watercraft, overheating and destroying motors. Decaying mussels also release an unpleasant odor that permeates the air and water. They reproduce rapidly adhering to any stable surface. If established on water intake pipes, they can cause system failures and expense clean-ups. How bad are they? In the United States, zebra mussels have cost the power industry over $3 billion between1993–1999, impacting industries, businesses, and communities for over $5 billion. Although mussels tend to dominate the news, additional threats come from a variety of invasive plants, fish, and pathogens.
More information is available on the Northwest Montana Lakes Volunteer Monitoring Network website:
Watercraft Inspection Program Goals
The goal of this watercraft inspection program is to safeguard Whitefish Lake and downstream water resources from the introduction of AIS by watercraft and associated equipment. The clean and healthy water of Whitefish Lake provides many recreational opportunities such as swimming, boating, and fishing; and serves as a drinking water supply for the City of Whitefish during part of the year. It also imparts extensive economic value to the entire community of and surrounding Whitefish, creating an attractive place to live, work, and recreate.
AIS COMMERCIAL USE ONLINE SELF-CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
To alleviate congestion at the City Beach Boat Launch, the City of Whitefish Parks and Recreations Department engaged the Whitefish Lake Institute to develop an Aquatic Invasive Species Commercial Use Online Self-Certification Program. By participating in this program, commercial users have the opportunity to acquire a launch that will eliminate the need for a full inspection each time they visit City Beach.
Self-inspection programs, whether mandatory or voluntary, offer limited protection because compliance is not guaranteed. They do save time for boaters, money for inspector staff time, and serve as effective boater education tools. The City of Whitefish appreciates its commercial watercraft users, and hopes that by extending this capability to commercial users, they will help protect our waterways in the course of providing their services.
In order to obtain a certificate, commercial users are required to complete an on-line training course and demonstrate they have acquired knowledge via a test. If the user successfully passes the test, they will be issued a Certificate that can be displayed to boat inspectors at City Beach.