MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Missoula Detachment of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is hosting Montana-wide Division 10?s semi-annual meeting at the American Legion Hall, 725 Ronan Street, April, 20-22. ?Our detachment was recently re-established this past year. The purpose of the USCG-Auxiliary is to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in promoting boating safety. Hosting this gathering gives us the opportunity to make the public aware of our existence in western Montana,? said Staff Officer Chris Roberts. ?It?s been awhile since there was a Coast Guard detachment in Missoula and we are excited to assist in the upcoming boating season which officially opens May 19,? Roberts added.

According to Liz Lodman, Montana Boat Education Coordinator for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, ?In the past five seasons we?ve had fifty-five reported boating/water related accidents involving injury or vessel damage on western Montana waters. Seventeen of these resulted in fatalities,? she commented. ?Hopefully having an increased Coast Guard presence encouraging good watercraft skills and boating safety on rivers and lakes in this area should help reduce these numbers,? Lodman adds.

The Auxiliary is part of both the U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security and is comprised of men and women ages 17 on up. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is able to provide the training an Auxiliarist acquires from an extensive support network through the USCG service.

Gar Wood, Flotilla Commander from Great Falls explained, ?The Division meeting offers three days of extensive training for Auxiliary members throughout the state. Participants can take classes from USCG and Auxiliary instructors and become certified as Instructors, Vessel Examiners and Program Visitors. This Division meeting brings together members as teachers or students from Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell, Glasgow, Great Falls, Helena, Libby and Missoula. Upon completion of training members are able to offer free Vessel Safety Checks at various Montana boating related locations later in May and June,? Wood said.

?In addition there will be a Division business meeting on Saturday April 21, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Anyone interested in learning about the USCG-Auxiliary is welcome to drop in anytime during this morning meeting,? Wood concluded.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary?s Missoula Detachment invites you to join the organization in promoting boating safety and good boating skills on western Montana waters. Members have fun, learn valuable skills, while socializing with people who love boating. The USCGAUX Missoula Detachment meets once a month at the American Legion Hall, 725 Ronan St.. Anyone wishing additional information is asked to contact Chris Roberts at 406 549-3090 or croberts@powwowcountry.com.