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Orca Month event at Boulevard Park highlights need to protect Southern Resident orca whales from threats of increased oil transport in the Salish Sea

posted Jun 15, 2017, 10:22 AM by Virginia Cleaveland   [ updated Aug 14, 2017, 10:16 AM ]

On Sunday, June 25, community members and environmental activists will gather at Boulevard Park in Bellingham for the free community event “Two if by land, one if by sea: Oil transport threatens the Salish Sea” to celebrate the endangered Southern Resident orca whale population and fight for their protection. 

The Orca Month event is hosted by local organizations RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Friends of the San Juans, and Washington Environmental Council. The event will begin with groups walking, biking and paddling to the park to represent the crude oil pipelines, trains, and tankers that threaten our fragile orca populations and the Salish Sea, both by land and by sea.

A community picnic, family-friendly activities, educational booths, and live music are scheduled from noon to 3 p.m., with a short program of speakers starting at 1 p.m.
  • What: Orca Month event “Two If by Land, One if by Sea: Oil Transport Threatens the Salish Sea”
  • Who: Speakers include Rick Wood, a documentary filmmaker working to tell the story of the resident orca whales, Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz, a musical duo with an activist message, and Qweshimut, a Lummi tribal member who will speak about the cultural importance of the orca and salmon to the Lummi people, accompanied with songs by his family group, Ngen’tse Ste’ky’e (Pack of Wolves).
  • When: June 25th, 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. (paddlers, bikers and walkers will meet at 11 a.m. at designated locations and will parade to the park)
  • Where: Boulevard Park, 470 Bayview Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225
This event is part of the 11th annual Orca Awareness Month, started by long-time orca education and advocacy group Orca Network. Members of the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) are hosting events throughout the month to educate the public about the Southern Resident orca population and the challenges they face.

Increased oil transport in the Salish Sea poses an unacceptable threat to local waterways, communities, and the endangered Southern Resident orcas. The proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in B.C. would drastically increase shipping of crude oil through Haro Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Salish Sea — and risk the safety of our drinking water and fisheries.

Puget Sound is already one of the leading petroleum refining centers in the country, putting us at risk for a catastrophic oil spill that would devastate the marine environment and most likely push the already struggling Southern Resident orcas over the brink. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska had a devastating impact on the orca population in Prince William Sound, and only a handful of non-breeding aged individual orcas remain today.

More information on walking, biking, or paddling to the event:

Paddlers: Congregate at three locations at 11 a.m. on the day of the event.
  • Fairhaven boat launch, 400 block of Harris Avenue, Bellingham. This is an official boat launch with restrooms nearby.
  • Cornwall Beach, at the terminus of Cornwall Avenue, 401 Cornwall Ave. This is an unimproved launch, great for canoes and kayaks. Free parking along Cornwall Avenue.
  • North end of Boulevard Park, 470 Bayview Drive. This is the location of the event. Parking is tight, but there's a sandy beach at the north end of the park.
Walkers: Meet at 11 a.m. at the Fairhaven Village Green, 1207 10th St, Bellingham. The group will be departing by 11:30 a.m. (see map for route)

Bikers: Meet at Cornwall Beach at the terminus of Cornwall Ave, 401 Cornwall Ave, at the same place as the paddlers. The group will be departing by 11 a.m. (see map for route)