Sunday, November 29, 2009
In an article posted September 25th I created a list of things I want to do. In that list is "crabbing and clamming" and I've been hot in the pursuit of accomplishing my goal. After speaking with several of Timothy's local relatives (who have clammed in the past) I discovered that clamming season is whenever the Fish and Wildlife Department says it is.
So, naturally, I pulled up Fish and Wildlife's website and searched for Clamming. I quickly learned that F&W regularly samples the beaches of Washington State to analyze various animal populations. When it is discovered that a particular shellfish population is over-abundant they will post their findings on the website along with set clamming dates for that beach.
Before I go on with this story I want to say that I was very frustrated with F&W's website. I had a hard time pulling up the information I needed. I can't even re-trace my steps for you. I wish I could because I found a page of .pdf files that contained locations of year-round clamming sites (most of which are only accessible by boat). One of them is Birch Bay.
SO! I found a clamming site. I learned that clamming permits can be obtained by almost any store that sells camping and hunting gear. I read that you must "shuck" your clams on the beach because of an invasion of Japanese clam-eating predators (they look like hermit crabs) which regularly lay their tiny eggs on the clam shells. The Fish and Wildlife Department wants to control the spread of these predators - hence the inconvenient shucking policy. I don't mind helping the Fish and Wildlife Department out, I'm just wary of contaminating my food while following the rules. Fish food poisoning is not fun.
The Saturday following my findings Tim and I drove the two hours to Birch Bay. It was a lovely drive. When we arrived at Birch Bay we were shocked to find an enormous toxic waste facility just outsite the Park. No website or city search made any reference to the presence of this facility. Later on I re-searched the city website and was humored by the fact that all the photographs were strategically taken to disinclude the toxic waste facility. I know because the site is so large that it fills the southern horizon with smoke stacks. It is very obvious that the city's main employer and source of income IS that facility.
By now I'm sure you won't be surprised if I tell you that Tim and I found several signs that said "Warning. Do not eat the shellfish here! Shellfish are toxic and may cause serious illness or death!"
In conclusion I do not suggest that any of you bother with Birch Bay in the future.