OLYMPIA – The Legislature could declare the razor clam the official Washington state clam, if it can beat back an upstart challenge from the geoduck.
The Pacific razor clam is highly important to communities across western Washington, said Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, who introduced a bill Wednesday to designate a state clam.
“Sometimes you just have to stick your neck out,” Blake quipped, when asked why he sponsored the bill.
Tens of thousands of people travel to beaches each weekend for razor clam digging, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The clams are of economic, cultural and recreational value to Washington, said Seattle author and razor clam enthusiast David Berger. He called the sight of people razor clamming “a jaw dropping spectacle.”
In 2017, Berger published “Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest,” which discusses the living and historical tradition of razor clams in the region.
But not all members of the House State Government and Tribal Committee, which was hearing Blake’s proposal, are on board. Razor clams are not unique to Washington, Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, said. Geoducks may be the superior Washington designee, she said.
“It’s ubiquitous,” Appleton said of the razor clam. “Everybody has clams. Now they may not be called Pacific clams, but they’re clams.”
Speaking for the razor clam’s elevated status, however, was Luke McNally-Crain, 8, who said he and his father, Scott Crain, enjoy catching and eating them at Copalis Beach.
The Pacific razor clam would not be the first bivalve to become a symbol of Washington. The Olympia oyster, was named the state oyster in 2014. No other state has designated an official state clam, although Rhode Island’s state shell, the quahaug, is a type of hard clam.
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