Redmond man on a mission to preserve Alaska habitat

Not long ago, Patrick Kelley didn’t think he could make much of a difference. Now the Redmond resident is on a mission.

  • Monday, April 14, 2008 5:31pm
  • News

Not long ago, Patrick Kelley didn’t think he could make much of a difference. Now the Redmond resident is on a mission.

Last month, Kelley traveled to Washington, D.C. as citizen lobbyist for the Alaska Wilderness League (AWL), an organization that works to preserve Alaska’s wild land and waters.

AWL is the only Washington D.C.-based environmental group devoted full-time to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other wilderness-quality lands in Alaska, according to its Web site.

Kelley was one of 60 conservation-minded activists from all across the country, including several Alaska Natives, who made the trip to D.C. to voice their opposition to the oil drilling operations in Alaska’s North Slope. The group met with Washington state congressman Jay Inslee, who focuses on environmental policies. Kelley said he was inspired by Inslee’s work and is now very passionate about preserving what he calls “the last great wilderness.”

“Investing money in fossil fuels is not good for the future,” said Kelley, who has visited Alaska twice, once in 1988 and another in 2000. “The best way is to invest in renewables and green jobs. We can support growth, but we can also improve the open spaces we have.

“We need open space to remind us of who we are. We need a connection to the Earth. There’s something wrong with drilling for oil in the wilderness.”

Kelley said the testimonies from the native Alaskans from the Inupiaq and Gwich’in tribes really hit an emotional chord.

Kelley said the most “heart-wrenching” story was told by an Inupiaq woman named Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, a public health official from a small village just west of Prudoe Bay. She said she has had to Medevac out almost 20 infants for acute asthma, caused by the gas flares and other air pollution from drilling. One of the babies is so sick he can’t return to the village, she said.

“Those kind of stories cause emotional reaction,” Kelley said.

Now Kelley wants to bring this message back home.

Kelley plans to give presentations and spread the word to various community groups. He is already signed up to give a presentation to the Eastside Audubon Society, an environmental conservation organization, on May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Chruch in Kirkland.

“The main thing I learned on my trip was that citizen involvement does make a difference,” he said. “I went there a cynic, but I have a different view now. I want to get more people to realize that they can make a difference too.”

Kelley is a former technical writer at Microsoft who started his own contract writing business, specializing in environmental science and conservation called PK Communications, LLC. in Bellevue.

Kelley admits he was never that politically active before his trip to D.C.

“I came back from this trip with a whole new attitude about government, and a much greater willingness to act locally,” Kelley said. “Our visit to Congressman Inslee’s office was a big part of that.”

More in News

Redmond planning commissioner Vanessa Kritzer announced she will be running for Redmond City Council, Pos. 5. Kritzer is a first-time candidate for office. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Kritzer Facebook.
Kritzer announces candidacy for Redmond council

She will run for Pos. 5 in the election.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Eastside students travel to Olympia to support plastic straw ban

Lake Washington High School students and the “Straw Kids” testified for SB 5077.

Southbound traffic backs up as northbound drivers cruise on with ease on the Highway 99 viaduct on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
WSDOT hopes ‘Viadoom’ habits continue

The department credits commuters with adapting to the closure and mitigating impacts.

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Most Read