In anticipation of the 2012-2013 personal use razor clam season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public suggestions for help in shaping the upcoming sequence of dig openings.
The comment period will be in lieu of public meetings this year. Managers expect the first dig this fall to be scheduled for mid-October.
Comments and suggestions about how to structure digging opportunities must be received by the department by Tuesday, Oct. 9. Send them either to email@example.com or via postal service to RazorClams, c/o Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA 98563.
Shellfish managers say harvestable clam numbers are up this summer on four of the five coastal razor clam management zones. Northernmost Kalaloch is the only beach where the clam population lags.
The jump in razor numbers is likely a normal phase in the cycle of this shellfish species, managers say. For clam aficionados it probably will translate into a higher allowable catch and perhaps more digging opportunities.
WDFW jointly manages five razor clam beach sectors (Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch Beach) on the Pacific Coast with the Quinault and Hoh tribes, the National Park Service and the Washington Department of Health.
As its razor clam populations allow, the National Park Service makes Kalaloch Beach available for some openings that coincide with digs on public beaches to the south.
Together with a small non-treaty commercial take, the lion's share of the non-treaty annual coastal razor clam allocation goes to personal-use gatherers.
The influx of diggers from around the state, during openings each year from fall through spring, provides an important economic boost to coastal communities.
Dig dates are selected for their evening or morning minus tides, which expose the greatest area of razor clam beach estate.
The Washington Department of Health sets the public health safety standard for marine algae toxins in consumed shellfish and some other seafoods. It oversees regular sample testing prior to each scheduled dig to determine whether clams are safe to eat.
Digging is not open to the public on ocean beaches inside Quinault Nation, Makah Tribe, Ozette or Hoh reservation boundaries, nor is clam digging permitted on the Olympic National Park's coastal strip, except at Kalaloch.
POTENTIAL FLAMES FIRE CONCERNS
After more than 60 days with little or no rainfall or heavy nighttime dew the land has become tinder dry.
And with most dedicated fire crews and equipment now committed to fighting, containing or mopping up a number of blazes, prevention becomes the watchword.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued temporary prohibitions on campfires, equipment use and off-road activities that apply to all of its managed lands, owned or leased, around the state.
Effective immediately, the following restrictions apply:
Fires or campfires: No open fires of any kind. But personal camp stoves or lanterns fueled by liquid petroleum, liquid petroleum gas or propane may be used.
Smoking: Not allowed outdoors, only inside an enclosed vehicle.
Target shooting: Banned everywhere except at WDFW-designated shooting ranges.
Welding, the use of chainsaws and any other equipment: Operating a torch with an open flame or any equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
Off-road motor vehicle operations: Banned except when parking in areas without vegetation within 10 feet of a developed roadway, parking in developed campgrounds or at trailheads.
These emergency orders dovetail with burn restrictions and access closures that have already been imposed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the governor's office on public and private lands throughout Eastern Washington
Federal agencies have set restrictions or closures in various locales as well.
The restrictions on WDFW-managed lands will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases.
Before departing for hunting or other recreation on public or private lands, hunters and others should check with the appropriate landowner for fire and access restrictions.
In some cases around active wildfires, lands and roads are closed to allow unimpeded movement by firefighters and to keep people out of the path of flames.
A closure was ordered Friday, Sept. 21, of WDFW's Quilomene, Whiskey Dick and Colockum wildlife areas north and northeast of Ellensburg. Also closed are federal and state forests east of US Highway 97 in the Naneum State Forest and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
For more information on fires burning in Washington, check these Web sites:
? Washington Department of Natural Resources at www.dnr.wa.gov/RecreationEducation/Topics/FireInformation/Pages/rp_fire_fireinformation.aspx.
? Incident Information System's website at www.inciweb.org/state/49/.
? U.S. Forest Service's website at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5390935.
SHRIMP POLICY UP FOR REVIEW
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has selected four spot shrimp fishery management options for further review after getting preliminary input from various groups.
The potential options and the draft Puget Sound shrimp policy can be found on the commission's webpage, wdfw.wa.gov/commission/ps_shrimp.html.
Commissioners will hear more public testimony on the options during their October and November sessions and will make a final decision in early December.
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoor.