Notable News

July 1, 2015, Department, by Sonia Myrick

- The bipartisan National Discovery Trails Act of 2015 (HR 2661) would create a system of recreational trails crossing state boundaries to link urban, suburban, wilderness and country sites that could be built on federal and non-federal land with the consent of the owners. Non-federal entities that own any property linked to or considered such a trail would still maintain control. The bill would also classify the existing American Discovery Trail as part of the National Trails System. The roughly 6,000 mile trail runs from Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware through Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia and Ohio, splits into a northern and southern route in Kentucky (the northern route goes through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska; the southern leg traverses Illinois, Missouri and Kansas), and meets up again in Colorado where it continues as one route through Utah and Nevada before reaching California. Any new national discovery trail would have to be walkable and cross state lines.


- Playing ping pong in the park may not stop crime, but, in Seattle, Washington, adding ping pong tables to a handful of parks is helping the city’s efforts to spruce them up with family activities. Cal Anderson Park in Seattle got its first free ping pong table in early June after a community group raised $1,500 to buy the table, paddles and balls. The first free ping pong table was installed at Hing Hay Park in Chinatown four years ago and, in addition to the Cal Anderson park, there are three other city parks with ping pong tables for public use: Westlake, Occidental and Pier 62/63.


- At the end of May, Maine primary care providers who participate in the state’s Let’s Go! Program began handing out state park passes to their young patients to encourage families to be active while experiencing the state’s beauty and history. Let’s Go!, a childhood obesity prevention effort, emphasizes physical activity and healthy food choices. Participating practices use the 5-2-1-0 program with their patients: five servings of fruits and vegetables each day; two hours or less of screen time each day; one hour of physical activity daily; and zero sugary drinks in favor of water. This is the fourth year that the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is providing the passes to medical practices. With the exception of Baxter State Park, which is not administered by the state, the one-time use passes are good at any of the state’s 48 parks and historic sites and are valid through December. This year, the department expects to distribute 13,000 passes to 148 medical practices.


- In various coastal cities around the state of Ohio, border collies are being used to clean up the beaches. The Ohio Geese Control group uses the dogs to scare away geese and seagulls, which cuts down on the amount of waste left behind by the birds and helps to improve water quality. Jeff Hower, with Ohio Geese Control, started using this approach about 10 years ago and it has been successful — now Ohio Geese Control uses 13 dogs, all border collies, in various cities around the state during beach season. The dogs, which are trained and work with a handler, are brought to the beach about three times a day. The handler use trigger words to release the dog to chase, but not to get close enough to hurt or harm, the birds. With persistence, the birds learn to not hang out in the area.


- AquaClimb, a leading manufacturer of safe and fun aquatic climbing walls, recently donated a $5,000 check to the American Childhood Cancer Organization to coincide with this year’s annual Childhood Cancer Action Days, June 15 and 16, hosted by the Alliance for Childhood Cancer. According to Laura Grandner, general manager of AquaClimb, “Childhood cancers get just 4 percent of funding from the National Cancer Institute, and that needs to change.” Currently, most pediatric cancers are treated with adult cancer treatments, which are extremely rough on young, developing bodies. Making childhood cancer a national health priority would ensure that more treatments and techniques were developed to specifically address cancers in children, and thus improve survival rates and other outcomes. One out of every four children with cancer will not survive. The action days center around activities in Washington, D.C., during which cancer organizations from around the nation join together to make their voices heard in Congress. The campaign is called #StepUp: Make Childhood Cancer a National Health Priority. More than 300 advocates were expected to attend. Click here to help make a difference in the lives of children with cancer and their families.