County officials encourage residents to celebrate Earth Day

April 22, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. April 22, 2010

Earth Day turns 40 on Thursday, but local officials plan to keep the annual eco celebration fresh with events and initiatives.

King County Council members proclaimed Thursday as Earth Day. The county will host the Earth Day Expo at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.

The event will feature speakers and vendors to help attendees learn more about how to reduce their carbon footprints and live a “green” lifestyle. Participants will also receive discounts and incentives for eco-friendly products and services.

“Annual Earth Day celebrations have been very successful at raising awareness about the challenges we face in preserving our natural environment as well as the many solutions available,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert — who represents Issaquah and other parts of the Eastside — said in a statement. “For example, it is great to see people taking many steps to help our environment, such as bringing their own cloth bags to the grocery store.”

The recognition from the council noted how Earth Day raised awareness about environmental protection. Congress passed watershed environmental laws after the inaugural Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act, and created the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat, spearheaded the annual celebration. On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day on college campuses and in cities throughout the United States.

“We can do much more to protect our land, water and air quality, particularly in the area of recycling, waste disposal and alternative energy,” Lambert said. “Earth Day is a good time to explore emerging technologies and pledge to make our everyday activities more environmentally sustainable.”

Meanwhile, County Executive Dow Constantine marked the run-up to Earth Day by highlighting several initiatives to lessen the impact of county government on the environment.

Constantine also ventured to Sammamish on Wednesday to release Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon fry into Ebright Creek. Local officials want the federal government to list the dwindling salmon species as endangered.

“Many years of involvement in local and regional salmon recovery efforts have taught me that partnerships are essential to getting projects done on the ground,” he said in a news release. “This week, I helped release kokanee salmon fry into Lake Sammamish, bringing hope for a local salmon run on the brink of extinction. This project was possible only through cooperative efforts by governments, federal and state agencies, local residents, and community groups.”

Constantine also recognized the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah. The complex under construction in the Issaquah Highlands will be energy efficient when it opens late next year.

“In these economic times, we need to make smart investments in transportation and energy conservation that provide additional transportation choices for residents, save energy and money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a green economy,” he said.

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