OLYMPIA – Tentative dates in early October were announced today for the first razor clam opening of the 2002-03 season, although the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is advising prospective diggers that they may have to take an alternate route to reach some coastal razor clam beaches.
Provided that marine toxin tests show that the clams are safe to eat, WDFW will open all five coastal razor clam beaches to digging Oct. 5-7 (Saturday through Monday) during evening (p.m.) tides only. Ocean beaches scheduled to open include Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch.
The evening low tide on Oct. 5 will occur at 6:26 p.m. (0.0 feet), on Oct. 6 at 7:15 p.m. (-0.7 feet) and on Oct. 7 at 8:03 p.m. (-1.2 feet).
"We're expecting another very good year of digging," said Dan Ayres, WDFW razor clam biologist. "The overall razor clam population appears to be at least as large as last year's, and the clams are considerably bigger on several beaches."
However, Ayres advised that closure of the Wishkah Street Bridge in Aberdeen during the month of October will require many clam diggers to take an alternate route to all areas except Long Beach.
To reach north coast beaches via the alternate route, motorists traveling west on State Route 12 from Olympia are advised to turn south on State Route 107 at Montesano, then head north on State Route 101 through Cosmopolis and into Aberdeen via the Chehalis River Bridge.
"The alternate route will be the fastest way to the ocean beaches," Ayres said. "Some thought was given to dropping the traditional October opener entirely, but we didn't want to do that because October is a very popular time for digging razor clams. We also recognized that canceling the opener would have a major impact on the economy of coastal communities."
Ayres said WDFW has received assurances from the Washington State Department of Transportation, which is closing the Wishkah Street Bridge for seismic retrofitting during September and October, that the alternate route will be well posted. Detour signs will also advise travelers to tune their car radios to a designed radio frequency for additional information.
For additional information on the Wishkah River Bridge project, see the WSDOT website (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/olympic/projects/us12wishkahbridge/) or call the WSDOT Aberdeen Project Office at (360) 533-9352.
While the timing of the October razor clam opener was largely determined by a combination of bridge work, tide schedules and tribal fishing periods, WDFW is seeking public input during five meetings in western Washington before establishing the remainder of the 2002-03 season.
As in past years, WDFW will discuss the status of coastwide razor clam stocks and solicit public comments on the structure of the upcoming recreational razor clam season. All five meetings will begin at 7 p.m. at the following dates and locations:
- Fife: Thursday, Sept. 12, at Fife High School in the School Board meeting room, 5616 20th St. E. (off I-5).
- Westport: Friday, Sept. 13, at the Ocosta High School Library, 2580 Montesano St.
- Ocean Shores: Monday, Sept. 16, at the Shilo Inn (Olympia-St. Helens Room), 707 Ocean Shores Blvd. N.W.
- Long Beach: Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Super 8 Motel, 500 Ocean Beach Blvd.
- Forks: Monday, Sept. 23, at the West End Sportsman's Club, 243 Sportsman's Drive.
People who are unable to attend the public meetings can submit written comments to WDFW through Sept. 25. Comments should be mailed to Dan Ayres, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091 or sent via e-mail to email@example.com to the attention of Dan Ayres.
Ayres reminds prospective diggers that they must have a 2002-03 license (shellfish/seaweed, combination or two-day) to participate in the October opening. Licenses can be purchased at any one of hundreds of dealers throughout the state, including most sporting goods stores. Licenses can also be purchased over the phone (1-866-246-9453) or via the Internet (http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/).
The five areas tentatively scheduled to open Oct. 5-7 include:
- Long Beach, including the entire Long Beach Peninsula.
- Twin Harbors, including Westport, Grayland, Midway and North Cove.
- Copalis, including Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis.
- Mocrocks, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
- Kalaloch, from the South Beach Campground to Brown's Point (just south of Beach Trail #3) within the Olympic National Park.
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.