A line of more than 400 marchers make their way through West End Park on the Port Angeles waterfront Saturday to raise awareness of climate change and to promote good stewardship of the environment. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Peninsula-wide climate march draws more than 400

A crowd of more than 400 marched for climate action on the North Olympic Peninsula on April 29, joining others who participated in similar events worldwide.

The People’s Climate March drew participants from Clallam, Jefferson and other counties who marched to the theme: “Our Peninsula, Our Future, Our Climate.”

“I want to make sure people see that fossil fuels are not the way to go for the future,” said Mark Freeland of Bremerton.

“They’ve done damage to the planet. We’ve known about that damage for a couple of decades at least and it shouldn’t be denied that it’s happening.”

The Port Angeles march was held in held in concert with other climate marches in cities across the U.S. and the world.

It was sponsored by Olympic Climate Action, Sierra Club North Olympic Group and other climate-minded organizations.

“We’ve got technology right now that can help us get off of fossil fuels and we ought to be expanding the implementation of better technologies that already exist,” said Freeland, who held a sign that read “Solar is Now and Clean.”

Others signs at the march read: “Earth First,” “Denial is not a Policy” and “Make Earth Great Again.”

“It’s a complete joke this regime we have in Washington on the federal and the national level,” said Jensen Torben of Sequim.

“It is unbelievable and it is definitely a road toward other societies that we have seen before.”

Lys Burden, Dale Grooms, Debra Ellers and Annette Ruzicka, all of Port Townsend, attended the march wearing orca costumes to raise awareness about the effects of climate change on killer whales.

“Orcas are highly endangered,” Burden said.

“The numbers are going down. There are only 78 (Southern Resident orcas) now. Tanker traffic is a huge impact, not only on the climate, but on orcas as well.”

Resident orcas feed solely on salmon, which are affected by drought and other impacts of climate change, Grooms said.

Marchers met at City Pier, then walked west past the new beaches at Oak Street, south to First Street, east to Lincoln Street and back to City Pier.

The march was led by members of area tribes.

“Indigenous peoples are often the first people who feel the effects of climate change and they’ve been on the front line of climate change action,” said Melanie Greer, an event organizer.

Jonathan Arakawa of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Klallam Drum Group delivered a welcome message to the crowd that had assembled at City Pier.

“I’d like to thank all of you for taking the stand that you’ve made to honor and protect Mother Earth,” Arakawa said.

“It’s not only us, as native people, that need to take care of this work. This work pertains to all of us as one people.”

Markers were placed around the city’s West End park depicting where the shoreline has been projected to be in the future because of sea level rise.

The list of scheduled speakers at a post-march rally included local author and activist Diana Somerville, Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member Vanessa Castle, Forks City Councilman Jon Preston, Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean, Makah Tribal Council Office of Marine Affairs Manager Chad Bowechop, Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson and Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias.

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Jonathan Arakawa, a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, delivers opening remarks at Port Angeles City Pier during Saturday’s rally and march to promote awareness of climate change. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

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