Last year’s requirement for all boats to be inspected and certified before launching in Flathead Indian Reservation waterbodies is no longer in effect. For this boating season, both Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are implementing a pilot project that requires all boats traveling into the Flathead Basin from any direction, be inspected by a watercraft inspection station prior to launching into any Flathead Basin waters.
Watercraft that are already within the Flathead Basin when the pilot project took effect on March 16th, 2018 do not require a new inspection. Only boats that leave the basin and launch in outside water bodies, must be inspected before launch once they return to the Flathead Basin.
CSKT in collaboration with FWP are operating mandatory watercraft inspection stations in Ravalli, and Elmo along Highway 28 to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Additionally, inspections can be arranged with CSKT at 406 6th Ave E in Polson Monday through Thursday, 7 am to 5 pm. Appointments can be made by calling (406) 675-2700 ext. 7200 to arrange a watercraft inspection appointment.
Inspections can also be obtained at Jesco Boats in Kalispell, Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 7 pm or at FWP Kalispell Region 1 offices Monday through Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm.
Watercraft includes stand up paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and inflatables.
The law applies to non-motorized watercraft owners and they will be ticketed if they drive by any open mandatory watercraft inspection station.
To ensure a speedy inspection, CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY your watercraft prior to arrival at a watercraft inspection station. At the inspection station inspectors will check to ensure live wells, anchors, bilges, engines and ballast tanks are clean and dry. “Boat owners need to open up live wells and take off boat covers at the inspection station” said Erik Hanson CSKT AIS coordinator.
Watercraft that remain in the Flathead Basin will not require an annual inspection before launching the first time each season. This action does not apply to boats that have left the Flathead Basin or are entering the Basin.
Even if you have remained in the Basin, you must stop at a check station if you pass one. It is state law that all watercraft must stop at mandatory Watercraft Inspection Stations (if the watercraft passes an Inspection Station after hours of operation, the watercraft must be inspected before launch).
Watercraft can be inspected at the check stations in Ravalli and Plains. A Check Station is also located at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at Region 1 in Kalispell.
For more information on watercraft inspection requirement changes, hours of operation or locations contact Sierra Mahseelah or Erik Hanson at 883-2888, ext 7200.
You can bring a photo of your boat to the Tribal FWRC office located on 6th Avenue East in Polson (where the old Mission Valley Power office was once located). You will be given some educational information and asked to sign an affidavit that asserts you are a local boater and only launch your boat on Flathead Lake.
Contact the CSKT FWRC office at 883-2888, ext 7200. We will coordinate with you to have an inspector come to you and perform a field inspection.
Yes. The CSKT are honoring FWP inspections performed off the Reservation.
If you have your watercraft inspected this year and only launch on waters inside the Flathead Basin you will not need to get another inspection. You will have to stop at all mandatory boat inspection stations if you trailer your watercraft between lakes within the basin and show your inspection paperwork, but you will not need to be inspected again.
If you leave the Flathead Basin with your watercraft, you will need to get another inspection before you can launch your watercraft in basin waters. Today, the waters of the Flathead Basin are free of invasive mussels. Since so many surrounding waters are fouled with Zebra and Quagga mussels, we are taking this precaution to protect our waters.
No. We are requiring boat owners to have their boats inspected in person.