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.



     Letter to the Editor:

More Trek Irony...

    February 11, 2006

     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 for nature.
     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
     Eatonville

  *Publisher's 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.

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