ILWACO — Common questions and concerns regarding recreational razor clamming were addressed during a discussion last week in Ilwaco.

The discussion, held Sept. 25 at Ilwaco Heritage Museum, was attended by approximately 20 people, including local business owners, commercial shellfish farmers and recreational clam diggers.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres and Jerry Borchert of the Washington Department of Health each gave presentations during the 2-hour meeting.

Ayres retraced the biology and history of razor clam management in Washington.

Borchert focused on toxin health hazard risks and the need to monitor them. Audience reacts

An open discussion period followed the presentations, allowing attendees to ask any remaining questions and present ideas to the agencies.

Retired oyster farmer Dick Sheldon objected after the roughly 90-minute presentation. Sheldon said the presentation went too long and didn’t leave enough time for residents to adequately address their concerns, calling the discussion a “waste of time” before leaving the room.

Karla Jensen, co-owner of Mermaid Inn & RV Park and vice president of the Long Beach Merchants Association, asked the agencies about the possibility of managing the Peninsula in three sections, instead of a single 28-mile stretch, particularly when testing for toxins.

Officials responded by saying it would be a logistical issue and would make management more difficult, comparing the spread of contamination to a child peeing in a swimming pool.

Doyle Hughes, of Gig Harbor, praised the presentation and WDFW’s management, particularly compared to Oregon, where he felt the lack of seasonal closures has contributed to slimmer clam populations overall.

“WDFW’s transparency and Ayres’ career dedication to shellfish and especially the razor clam population was obvious,” Hughes said. He was camping at Cape Disappointment, one of about 40 days he spends visiting the Peninsula each year, often to clam.

Luke Whittaker is a staff writer for Coast River Business Journal and the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or

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