FISHING/BOATING -- Montana has taken a different twist on the regional fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS). All anglers are required to buy the state's new AIS Prevention Pass, according to legislation signed by Gov. Steve Bullock on Thursday.
The requirement took effect Friday and includes anglers who already have purchased their 2017 Montana fishing licenses to acquire the AIS pass.
The pass -- $2 for resident anglers and $15 nonresidents -- is expected to generate about $3.2 million a year for Montana’s effort to curb the spread of aquatic invasive species, which includes doubling of inspection boat stations, additional water testing and mandatory inspection of out-of-state boats.
Idaho requires boats launched in state waters to have an AIS sticker. Montana, however, did not include non-fishing boaters in its AIS requirement, targeting only anglers. Lawmakers debating the fee proposal had brought up concerns about double and triple taxation, such as if someone owns three boats, is a fisherman, irrigates and buys power.
The Montana legislation also assess a fee on hydropower facilities.
In a news release, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says the AIS pass is being sold online and wherever state fishing licenses are sold.
"The legislation came in response to last year’s detection of invasive mussel larvae in Tiber Reservoir and suspected detection in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, which triggered a governor’s emergency declaration," reports the Independent Record of Helena. "If the mussels infest a waterbody, they cover and clog infrastructure and negatively impact aquatic life."