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Boating ed

A boat heads down the Yellowstone River at the Duck Creek bridge in 2017.

Boaters are being encouraged by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to enroll in a spring boating education course.

The "Spring Aboard — Take A Boating Education Course" campaign encourages boaters to get educated prior to the boating season. For more information, visit www.springaboard.org.

“We know that an educated boater is safer on the water,” said Phil Kilbreath, Boating Law administrator for FWP. “If a boater has taken a boating safety education course the likelihood of their time spent on the water being a safe and enjoyable experience is much greater for them as well as their passengers.”

U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 77 percent of boating deaths occurred on craft where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.

Boaters have multiple options from classroom courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons, to online offerings available anytime day or night.

A Montana boat education course can even be taken at home, online, or via a classroom course offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. Montana law requires youngsters ages 13 and 14 who plan to operate a motorboat, jet ski or other personal watercraft with a 10 horsepower motor or more to have a valid motorboat operator's safety certificate or be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older.

Montana is one of 49 states and U.S. territories that require proof of completion of a boating education course for operators of some powered vessels. For a summary of Montana’s regulations and available courses, visit: fwp.mt.gov.

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