PURDY, Wash. -- Geoducks are one of the state's most iconic shellfish and worldwide demand is growing. However, people who live around Burley Lagoon, the perfect place for geoducks to thrive, aren't happy about one company's plan to expand there.
The sights and sounds of Burley Lagoon have kept John and Karen McDonell happy in Purdy for 35 years.
"It's a very sweet, quiet lagoon with wonderful neighbors," said Karen McDonell.
The calm waters are at the heart of a turbulent battle. Taylor Shellfish Farms wants to turn 25 acres of the lagoon into a geoduck farm. If approved, it would be the company's largest geoduck operation - a concern for those like the McDonells.
"Geoducks are grown in plastic tubes like this," said Karen McDonnell. "They plant 35,000 to 40,000 of these pipes per acre, so if you do the math, there's going to be a million of these tubes on the beautiful seafloor or our pristine lagoon."
While the McDonells are worried about what the farm will do to the view, environmentalist Laura Hendricks with the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat fears the impact could run much deeper. The coalition is using its resources to try to block Taylor's expansion into Burley.
"We can't in the Puget Sound afford to lose any more of our aquatic life," said Hendricks.
Taylor Shellfish Farms representative Bill Dewey argues both the aesthetic and environmental fears are unwarranted.
"There has been $3 million that have researched environmental concerns and they have come out favorably," said Dewey.
Dewey said Taylor Shellfish Farms are a good neighbor, and the plastic tubes of the geoduck farm can only be seen at low tide. As for the environment, he says no one wants to protect it more than the Taylors because their business depends on it.
"There's no other industry in Puget Sound about having a clean environment in which to work," said Dewey. "We spend an awful lot of time to protect and restore Puget Sound. We have no interest as a company or an industry harming it. They're committed to farming for many more generations and that's not going to be possible if we're destroying the area in which we farm."
Residents aren't buying it, as they cite change already washing over their landscape.
"We are seeing wildlife disappear and we are seeing the agriculture business completely over-shape what used to be the shorelines and the tide lands," said McDonnell.
Taylor Shellfish has already filed an application to farm geoduck on 25 acres of Burley Lagoon, but the company is ready for a battle that could take years.
Burley Lagoon near Gig Harbor is perfect for geoducks. But people who live nearby aren't happy about one company's plans to expand. KING 5's Janet Kim reports.