Notable News

November 1, 2014, Department, by Samantha Bartram

The field of parks and recreation mourns the losses of leaders Dwight Rettie and Jean Packard.Lifelong conservationist and public servant Dwight Fay Rettie, 84, died September 28 at his home in Morehead City, North Carolina. Retiring from the National Park Service (NPS) in 1986, Rettie was a 30-plus-year federal employee who lived, taught and exemplified the highest level of civic service to his country. Rettie’s career spanned professional assignments with the NPS from 1975 to 1986, the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1966 to 1971, the office of the Secretary of the Interior from 1964 to 1966, the Bureau of Land Management from 1957 to 1963, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1963 from 1964. In earlier years, Rettie worked in the U.S. Treasury Department and for the U.S. Forest Service in western Montana as a lookout and smoke chaser during summers at college. Apart from his government service, Rettie served as NRPA’s executive director from 1971 to 1975, as well as on several other boards and commissions.

Civic leader and conservation champion Jean R. Packard, 92, died October 21 at her home in Fairfax, Virginia. A dedicated champion of her community and country, Packard served on many municipal and advisory boards including the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Sierra Club and the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, to name but a few. Packard is perhaps best known for leading the effort to down-zone the Occoquan Watershed, resulting in the protection of the Occoquan Reservoir. In recognition of her work and in her presence, on September 27, NOVA Parks broke ground on the new Jean R. Packard Occoquan Center” at Occoquan Regional Park.

Miracle Recreation donated a brand-new, state-of-the-art playground to the Staten Island neighborhood of Midland Beach, which was severely battered when Hurricane Sandy made landfall two years ago. The storm destroyed one of the neighborhood’s few playground areas — Midland Playground — which has been closed ever since, leaving families with fewer public areas for safe, active play. It also destroyed the playground’s infrastructure, ruining the safety surfacing, submerging the area in several feet of water and littering the grounds with debris. The adjacent basketball courts, also a community fixture, were damaged as well. The playground refurbishment was a joint effort with NBA Cares, the National Basketball Association’s global social responsibility program, which provided new basketball courts alongside the playground.

Nuisance wildlife doesn’t typically make the list of spookiest creatures during the Halloween season, but in Brevard County, Florida, a handful of hogs have become almost as frightening as a pack of brain-eating zombies. In the Suntree community, wildlife trapper James Dean says a pack of wild hogs is terrorizing the neighborhood, ripping up lawns, rooting about and intimidating homeowners. Dean trapped eight hogs during the last week in October, but says there are several more roaming about, one of which he estimates at around 350 pounds. Apparently the wild hogs routinely cause problems every year in this neighborhood, but, in a local news interview, Dean claims 2014 is “the worst I've ever seen.” Because the hogs prefer to roam at dawn and dusk, Dean fears they may disrupt Halloween trick-or-treating plans for the community’s many children and families. You can read more about nuisance wildlife and the myriad challenges it presents here.

Police recruits in Springfield, Massachusetts are protecting and serving their community in an unexpected way: by improving its beauty and air quality with the planting of several new trees. The young recruits planted a mix of shade and ornamental trees in Hennessy Park in the city’s Bay neighborhood, while also taking time to clear out overgrown brush along the park’s perimeter. Completion of a community service project is required for the recruits’ graduation, and after reaching out to nonprofit tree advocacy group Regreen Springfield, the idea of planting trees and tidying up a couple local parks seemed a perfect fit. The recruits also cleaned up and repainted playground equipment at nearby Adams Playground. “We needed to do a community service project for the academy,” recruit Andrew Normand says, “so what better way to leave your mark than plant trees in the park?”