felt soled
Montana Angler

Yellowstone National Park Bans Felt-Soled Waders

The park made the decision in an attempt to thwart the spread of invasive aquatic species.

Montana is making a concerted effort to fight the spread of invasive species, particularly invasive mussels, although there is some doubt about whether or not the ban would make any actual difference.

Todd Koel, Yellowstone National Park's chief fisheries biologist, affirmed that the park serves as the headwaters for the Snake and Missouri river systems. And, he says they need to do everything they can to prevent invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species from overtaking these waters.

"Because we sit at these headwaters, we really have a responsibility to make sure aquatic invasive species don't get introduced here," Koel said.

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While many anglers favor felt-soled waders for their stability and non-slip capabilities, the park believes banning them is a small price to pay for keeping unwanted pests out of the environment.

Many believe the fibrous character of felt soles are ideal hiding places for invasive, microscopic organisms. Careless anglers can then easily spread these organisms from one body of water to another.

A few other states have enacted similar bans on felt-soled boots.

Not everyone agrees.

There are many who don't believe such bans would have much of an impact or deter the spread of invasive species. Bob Wiltshire, of the Invasive Species Action Network, says the best measure to control the spreading of invasive species is diligence from those who fish.

"What really matters is if the boot has been cleaned," Wiltshire said.

Yellowstone still holds the better-safe-than-sorry position, though.

"It's just one more step we think we can take to preserve the park long-term against any further addition of aquatic invasive species," Koel said.

Along with the felt-sole ban, the park also instituted a designated boating season that runs concurrently with the fishing season. This policy will ostensibly allow park staff to inspect boats for invasive species before launching.

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