Trek Memorial to Dr. Hellyer, Park Benefactor...
(photo by Bob Walter)
February 11, 2006: A
small memorial to Dr. David Hellyer was set up at the entrance of Northwest Trek
Wildlife Park recently. Dr. Hellyer died January 20, 2006 at age ninety-two.
It is ironic this memorial was put next to the full-sized statue of a bull
moose, as Trek's only adult bull moose was killed by a falling tree about two
weeks after Hellyer's death.
The moose, a four-year-old, thousand pound animal
born at the park, was found dead after he had been missing for a few days.
Park officials reported the moose was killed by a large red alder hitting him on
the head. Alder leaves are often eaten by moose.
After the park opened in 1975 an iconic bull moose
dubbed "Chocolate" was found dead causing much sorrow among staff
and the public. The cause of his death was never determined. Trek lost another
bull moose in February 2004. He was discovered ill February 3 and, according to
Trek officials, didn't respond to medical treatment. The death of the moose was
not announced for twelve days.
The photograph of the park's founder and benefactor
is inscribed - "In Memory of Dr. David "Doc" Hellyer 1913 - 2006.
The bronze moose was placed at Trek June 13, 2000. The Northwest Trek
Foundation raised funds for the sculpt which was done by local artist
Jeff Oens in celebration of the park's 25th anniversary.
to the Editor:
How ironic that last year's News Tribune editorial (January, 25, 2005))
stated, "Trek is doing fine." *Now,
a year later, we find the Hellyer family has
not given up the effort to find justice for wilderness and its kind. Hellyer
died on January 20 and the words of praise in "Founder of Trek won't
see fight end" [The News Tribune, January 24] wouldn't mean much
without his attempt to set Trek on the path of true education and deep respect
When I returned to Tacoma from five years
Italy in August 1975, my father said, "Louise, I'm so happy to see
you. Northwest Trek opens this week." What did I know of this place? I
was still struggling with reverse culture shock. Out to Eatonville we went to
marvel at the generous gift of wilderness.
An ad campaign in recent years does not reflect
that abiding love of forests and wild animals. In billboard and print
advertising, I've seen bears juxtaposed in parking lots and grocery stores
with people in close proximity.
What sense does that make? That doesn't reflect
the real pull of nature on the human soul, despite what some ad agency
might think. Instead they trivialized it, demeaning the animals and the
public, often starving for a look at true nature -- and it does exist at Trek
-- is also duped.
Win or lose, this entire struggle is more than
"a small blip on the screen in terms of what he's (Hellyer) done in
his lifetime." (Gary Geddes, The News Tribune, January 24.) I
believe, indeed, it's what his lifetime has always been about.
Louise Kazda Carson
Note: Kazda Carson
is referring to a civil lawsuit filed in Pierce County Superior Court January
19, 2005. The suit was filed against the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma by
Dr. David Hellyer, his wife, Connie, and the Northwest Trek Foundation.
Court papers state, in part,
"1. Plaintiffs Dr. David T. Hellyer and Constance Hellyer are the settlors/grantors
to defendant Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma. as trustee/grantee, of the
535-acre property on which the widely-acclaimed and loved wildlife park known as
Northwest Trek is situated. The Hellyers bring this action because the defendant
has failed to abide by the conditions of the trust or grant establishing the
park. The defendant has mismanaged the park, likely to its permanent detriment,
and has frozen Dr. Hellyer out of policy and other matters despite the
defendant's agreement to retain Dr. Hellyer as a consultant. The defendants'
acts and omissions seriously threaten the original purposes of the trust/grant.
"2. If the Hellyers deed is deemed to
create a trust, the Hellyers seek replacement of the defendant as trustee or
termination of the trust. If the deed is deemed to be a grant of fee simple
determinable or fee simple subject to a condition subsequent, the Hellyers seek
reversal of title. They strongly believe this course to be the only means
available to assure that Northwest Trek continues to be the widely-acclaimed and
loved public asset it is.
"3. In addition, plaintiff Northwest Trek
Foundation seeks an injunction to prevent the defendant from interfering
with the Foundation's easement for access to the Hellyer Center, an educational
facility on lands separate from the original Northwest Trek deeded lands.
Defendant's interference with this easement has prevented the Center from
becoming the teaching and research resource it was intended to be.
Another excerpt from the court documents
touches on a point made in Kazda Carson's letter. "37. The exclusion of
Dr. Hellyer is the culmination of the Park District's efforts over the past two
years to remove and isolate Dr. Hellyer from policy, planning and management
activities relating to the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and to effectively
eliminate the planning and supervisory role guaranteed to him under the terms
and conditions of the Park Property Deed and Supplements. Among other things,
the Park District has failed to consult Dr. Hellyer concerning (a) its decision
to consolidate governance of the three park facilities; (b) the hiring of the
Director of Animal Managment; (c) the purchase of 100 acres to expand the park;
(d) changes in food concessions; and (e) advertising for Northwest
Trek." (Emphasis added.)
The court date for this suit was
originally set for January 18, 2005. The trial has been rescheduled to begin
August 28, 2006 if no settlement is reached before then. If the case does go to
trial there will be a twelve person jury and the the proceedings are expected to
last ten days.