Glacier National Park continues its boat inspection and permit program this summer as part of an on-going aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention program. Aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, continue to threaten park waterways. Recently established mussel populations in the southwest present new threats to park waters, as mussel-positive boats from that region have been intercepted in the northwest.
Hand-propelled watercraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, catarafts) being launched within the park are required to obtain an AIS-free self-certification permit. The permit is free, completed by the boater, and is required upon each entry to the park. The permit must remain with boaters while they are floating. It is available at all park visitor centers, backcountry permit offices, park headquarters, and at maintained boat launches. Visitors can download the permit before entering the park.
Though launch hours are not restricted, inspection hours are limited. Hours vary throughout the park and will be adjusted seasonally. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, permits are available daily from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at park headquarters in West Glacier, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at all other locations, including the St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, and Many Glacier Ranger Station. Boaters wishing to launch on Bowman Lake should obtain a permit at park headquarters and then immediately proceed to Bowman Lake after the inspection.
Boats failing inspection will be denied a permit. Boaters may re-apply for a permit after their boat is thoroughly cleaned, drained and dried. Boats found with infestations of any aquatic invasive species may be quarantined until they are fully decontaminated, which may take up to 30 days. All boaters are encouraged to thoroughly clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and/or fishing equipment before coming to the park. Fishing equipment must be clean and dry as well.
Invasive mussels have been found on boats within Montana and passing through Montana over the past few years. Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic plants are also present in western Montana waterways, necessitating a high degree of vigilance to prevent spread. Federal law prohibits the transportation and introduction of invasive species into the ecosystem in Glacier National Park
Park managers appreciate the cooperation of recreational boaters to help prevent aquatic invasive species entering Glacier National Park. The consequences of aquatic invasive species becoming established in park waters at the headwaters for the Columbia, Missouri and Hudson Bay Watersheds are dire for aquatic ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and economic concerns downstream. Park officials urge all boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats and related equipment after every outing.
For rules and regulations on boating, please visit the park’s web page. For more information on AIS, please visit the AIS web page.
Hiking in Glacier National Park