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Contact: Denise Germann , 406 888-5838
Contact: Katie Liming , 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park continues its boat inspection and permit program this summer as part of an ongoing aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention program. Westward expansion of zebra and quagga mussels, and other aquatic invasive species transported mainly on recreational watercraft, is driving regional water resource managers to adjust existing AIS prevention strategies. Mussel infestations are increasing across the country, and present greater threats to park waters as more boats testing positive for mussels are intercepted in the northwest each year.
Invasive mussels are found on boats within Montana or passing through Montana on a regular basis. Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic plants are also present in western Montana waterways, necessitating a high degree of vigilance to prevent spread.
Glacier National Park visitors can launch most motorized and trailered watercraft in the park, however, a thorough boat inspection is required upon every entry to the park. Hand-propelled watercraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, catarafts) launched within the park are required to obtain an AIS 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. Boaters can also download the permit before they come to the park from Glacier’s website at https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/boating.htm. As always, park managers encourage all boaters to thoroughly clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and/or fishing equipment before coming to the park.
• A free permit, subsequent to an NPS boat inspection is required to launch any motorized or trailered watercraft, except for hand-propelled watercraft in Glacier National Park.
• Hand propelled watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, and catarafts require a free self-certification permit. A new permit is required upon each entry into the park. A boat may launch multiple times provided the boat does not leave the park between launches.
• A thorough inspection is required for each motorized boat permit. Park inspectors will gladly inspect hand propelled watercraft on a voluntary basis.
• Inspections may take upwards of 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the boat. Boaters should plan on additional time for inspections.
• To receive a permit, boats must be clean, drained and thoroughly dry (including bilge areas and livewells) upon inspection.
• Inspectors may hose down the outer hull and motor areas of boats to remove road grime. This is only to facilitate inspection. It is not a decontamination procedure. Dirty boats that arrive with any standing water (including livewell and bilge areas) and boats with inaccessible internal ballast tanks will not be issued a permit – boats must be CLEAN, DRAINED, and DRY prior to arrival in Glacier.
• 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 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Park Headquarters and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at all other locations - St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, and the Many Glacier Ranger Station.
• Boaters wishing to launch on Bowman Lake must obtain a permit at Park Headquarters, and then immediately proceed to Bowman Lake after the inspection.
• Permits are available the rest of the year between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 pm. Boaters should be prepared to wait longer for inspections in the off-season (fall/winter/early spring) due to limited inspection personnel. Please call ahead if you can estimate your arrival time, (406) 888-7800.
• Boats with internal ballast tanks or other enclosed compartments that exchange water with the environment and that cannot be readily cleaned, dried, and fully inspected or removed are prohibited from launching in Glacier National Park.
• 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 AIS species may be quarantined until they are fully decontaminated.
• Boaters on Waterton Lake must comply with permit and inspection requirements of Parks Canada.
Park managers realize that recreational boaters will face added time and inconvenience while recreating in Glacier National Park. However, the consequences of AIS 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 boating 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,