OLYMPIA - All five Washington razor-clam beaches will open for digging on morning tides April 23, 24 and 25, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed today.
The three-day dig, tentatively announced last month, received final approval after a series of marine toxin tests showed that the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.
Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis and Twin Harbors will all be open for digging each day from midnight until noon, as will Kalaloch beach, which is jointly managed by Olympic National Park and WDFW.
Clam diggers will have company April 23 on four of those beaches, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. The sixth-annual Olympic Coast Cleanup is expected to draw hundreds of volunteers to Mocrocks, Copalis, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch beaches that day to remove debris.
"Most of the volunteers participating in the clean-up will likely arrive after the clamming tide is over, but we still want to caution everyone to drive safely," Ayres said.
He also noted that everyone planning to participate in the upcoming dig must carry a valid 2005-06 fishing license.
The same is true for a two-day dig tentatively scheduled May 7-8 at all five beaches, Ayres said. Final approval for that dig will depend on the results of future marine toxin tests, he said.
"The two-day May opening will likely be the last coastwide dig of the season, because most beaches are nearing the end of their harvest quota," Ayres said. "In fact, we were only able to include Copalis Beach in the newly scheduled May opening because the Quinault Indian Nation generously agreed to transfer 180,000 clams from their share of the harvest to the non-tribal share."
Annual licensing options for the upcoming digs include a combination fishing license, shellfish/seaweed license, or razor-clam license - all valid through March 31, 2006. Three-day razor clam licenses are also available.
Licenses can be purchased via the Internet at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by telephone (1-866-246-9453) or in person at more than 600 license vendors throughout the state.
For anyone needing to purchase a license, Ayres strongly recommends doing so before leaving home to avoid long lines that often form at coastal license dealers during a dig.
However, to help ease the pressure on coastal dealers, WDFW will sell licenses at the Willapa Bay Field Station, 26700 Sandridge Rd., Ocean Park, on the Long Beach Peninsula. Licenses for the upcoming dig will be sold Friday, April 22 from noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, April 23 from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday, April 24 from 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and Monday April 25 from 5:30 a.m. to noon.
Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's limit must be kept in a separate container.
For best results, Ayres recommends that clammers start digging at least one hour before low tide. Low tides during the upcoming dig:
- April 23 (Saturday): 6:41 a.m., -0.1 feet
- April 24 (Sunday): 7:21 a.m., -0.7 feet
- April 25 (Monday): 8:02 a.m., -1.1 feet
Unlike other razor clamming beaches in Washington, the beaches at Kalaloch are far from any town and have a distinct wilderness character. Diggers are urged to use caution and to carry flashlights or lanterns if walking at night, as there are no streetlights or lighted signs in the area.
All of the park's beaches are closed to vehicle traffic, and parking is allowed only in designated parking areas; no parking is allowed on U.S. Highway 101. Diggers are urged to consider carpooling, as parking options are limited.
For more information about visiting Olympic National Park, including camping and lodging information for the Kalaloch area, people can visit the Olympic National Park website (http://www.nps.gov/olym). Information about razor clamming can be found on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) and by calling the WDFW Shellfish Hotline (1-866-880-5431).