Help Stop Aquatic Invasive Species

quagga mussels cling to boat propeller
A boat propeller engulfed by quagga mussels. Help keep our waters free of aquatic invasive species.

NPS

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is dominated by large fjord-like glacial lakes. For many visitors they are a primary destination. Boating, fishing, or just plain hanging out on the shore and skipping rocks consume many a relaxing hour and are the stuff of magical memories. We need your help to keep it that way.

On the surface things look fine, but in the past stocking of non-native fish changed the ecosystems of most park lakes. These fish out compete native species for food and habitat. We need to prevent additional non-native species of animals or plants from accidentally being introduced, because each small change effects the overall health of park waters.

Use this field guide to help you identify AIS.

Don't Move a Mussel

Now there is a new and serious threat. Imagine a future where going to your favorite rock-skipping beach, you find the shoreline matted with tens of thousands of small mussel shells, with everything cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Imagine once productive fisheries wiped out by these new invaders. It's not science fiction, impacts are already occurring in waters in the Great Lakes, eastern provinces and states, the prairies and plains, and more recently in the Southwestern United States.

Since the 1980s freshwater zebra and quagga mussels have steadily advanced westward, transported on trailered boats. Very recently, a mussel-carrying boat was intercepted at a marina on Flathead Lake. The boat had come from the Southwest. Flathead Lake is just downstream from Glacier.

Protecting the waters of the Peace Park requires immediate action, both by the parks and by every boater.

 

Glacier National Park Watercraft Launch Regulations

Lake McDonald - Second Saturday in May

  • Trailered watercraft with gas-powered motors are permitted on Lake McDonald after an inspection and after being quarantined for 30 days prior to launch. Boats will be sealed to the trailer after inspection and seals will be removed by park personnel following the 30-day drying time.

  • Non-motorized watercraft, and non-trailered electric motorized watercraft will also be permitted, and do not require the quarantine period.

  • Glacier National Park, State of Montana and other Montana certified inspection entity seals (CSKT, Blackfeet, Whitefish Lake, etc.) will be honored, pending verification of quarantine.
  • Motorized boaters wishing to re-launch on Lake McDonald must have their watercraft resealed upon take-out during regular inspection station hours.

Two Medicine Lake - June 1

  • Trailered watercraft with gas-powered motors are permitted on Two Medicine Lake after an inspection and after being quarantined for 30 days prior to launch. Boats will be sealed to the trailer after inspection and seals will be removed by park personnel following the 30-day drying time.
  • Non-motorized watercraft, and non-trailered electric motorized watercraft will also be permitted, and do not require the quarantine period.
  • Glacier National Park, State of Montana and other Montana certified inspection entity seals (CSKT, Blackfeet, Whitefish Lake, etc.) will be honored, pending verification of quarantine.
  • Motorized boaters wishing to re-launch on Two Medicine Lake must have their watercraft resealed upon take-out during regular inspection station hours.

Bowman Lake - Second Saturday in May

  • Gas or electric powered vessels of 10hp or less are permitted to launch on Bowman Lake.

  • All vessels shall be hand launched at the Bowman Lake boat ramp. Trailered vessels with a combined length of 21’ or more are prohibited anywhere in the North Fork.

  • Due to trailered launch restrictions, State of Montana and other Montana certified inspection entity seals (CSKT, Blackfeet, Whitefish Lake, etc.) will NOT be honored for Bowman Lake. Motorized watercraft users wishing to launch on Bowman Lake must have their motors inspected and sealed at either The Apgar or Two Medicine boat inspection stations.

  • Motorized boaters wishing to re-launch on Bowman Lake must have their motor resealed upon take-out at the Polebridge Ranger Station during regular hours.

Other Park Waters

Non-motorized watercraft and non-trailered electric motorized watercraft are permitted same day launch on Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, Two Medicine Lake, St. Mary Lake, and Swiftcurrent Lake, after inspection and permit issuance by NPS staff. They will not require a 30-day dry time because the motors are not water-cooled and therefore are classified as lower risk, similar to hand-propelled water-craft.

Kintla Lake is open to hand-propelled watercraft, after inspection. Inspections for the North Fork area of the park (Bowman and Kintla Lakes) are performed at the Apgar Village permit station.

Hand-propelled boats and sailboats are permitted on park waters with the following exception: from April 1 through September 30, the section of Upper McDonald Creek between Mineral Creek and Lake McDonald is closed to all types of boating and floating to protect nesting Harlequin ducks.

Boating may be restricted in certain areas for safety or to protect sensitive wildlife habitat throughout the park. Marker buoys and/or signing will be placed to designate the closures.

2019 Inspection Locations and Hours of Operation

Lake McDonald
(Across street from Public Boat Ramp)

  • May 11 – May 31
    8:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • June 1 – October 31
    7:00 am to 4:00 pm

North Fork (Polebridge)

  • Boat inspections are not available in the North Fork area.
    Bowman or Kintla Lake boaters must stop at the Lake McDonald inspection station for a launch permit. After successful inspection, they must proceed directly to their North Fork launch destination.
    North Fork residents should contact the Polebridge Ranger Station for possible alternate inspection procedures.

Two Medicine Ranger Station

  • June 1 – September 27
    7:00 am to 4:30 pm

St. Mary Visitor Center

  • June 1 – September 27
    7:00 am to 4:30 pm

Many Glacier Ranger Station

  • June 1 – September 27
    7:00 am to 4:30 pm

For specific information on recreational boating in Glacier National Park, please visit the Boating page.

Glacier National Park will honor motorized watercraft inspections and seals from Montana State, Whitefish Lake, and Blackfeet Tribal Inspectors. Non-motorized watercraft will only be issued launch permits after inspection by Glacier National Park inspectors.

Waterton Lakes National Park Permit Regulations

Currently, motorized and trailer-launched watercraft require a 90 day quarantine after inspection before launching on Waterton Lake. Non-motorized boats may self-certify prior to launching.

canoes

kayaks

paddle boards

kite boards

wind surfers

row boats

inflatable watercraft

To obtain the permit you must complete a self-inspection form, which will act as a permit. Watercraft users must ensure their permits are available for examination. Self-inspection forms will be available at the park gate, Visitor Reception Centre, Operations Building and Wardens Office, campgrounds, and select locations in town. Permit stations will also be located throughout the park at boat launches and the most popular boating areas.

More information is available on the Waterton Lakes National Park Lakes Activities page.

Additional Aquatic Invasive Species Information

fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/species/ais/
www.100thmeridian.org
nas.er.usgs.gov/default.aspx

Last updated: October 31, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936

Phone:

(406) 888-7800

Contact Us