Inaugural Green Tacoma Day draws 120 volunteers

More than 120 Tacoma residents gathered Nov. 15 at Julia's Gulch in Northeast Tacoma on the first-ever Green Tacoma Day...

More than 120 Tacoma residents gathered Nov. 15 at Julia’s Gulch in Northeast Tacoma on the first-ever Green Tacoma Day to begin restoration work on the 32-acre site acquired earlier this year through a unique coalition.

Volunteers, restoration crew members and Tacoma city and port officials gathered at the Green Tacoma Partnership’s newest site to begin pulling ivy and planting native plants. In addition to on-the-ground work, instruction in all phases of restoration at different locations within the gulch was provided.

The Green Tacoma Partnership is a public-private partnership between the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks, Tahoma Audubon Society, Cascade Land Conservancy, citizens, educational organizations, neighborhood groups, non-profits, faith-based organizations and businesses all working together to sustain a viable healthy network of natural spaces throughout Tacoma. 

This partnership is working closely with the City to develop an Open Space Habitat Plan that will map out a city-wide restoration and management plan for all natural areas within the City of Tacoma.

Julia’s Gulch was acquired through an agreement among the Conservancy, the Port of Tacoma, the City of Tacoma and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. The land is along the steep slopes overlooking the Port of Tacoma. Prior to the acquisition, the property was slated for 52 homes.

In brief ceremonies before the work got under way, Ryan Mello, Pierce County Conservation Director for the Conservancy, welcomed all to the site and accepted a grant of $5,000 from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI). “I see nothing but great things on the horizon for the Green Tacoma Project and open spaces in the City of Tacoma,” said Mello. “With all the hard work of many hands here today, we are making strides toward creating an important green space for the people of this city.”

Volunteers included members of the newly formed “Friends of Julia’s Gulch” team. “We are encouraged in our work with so many neighbors and friends here to help us get started,” said Don and Heather Halibisky, leaders of the new group.

Tacoma City Councilmember Julie Anderson spoke about how important open spaces are as “public infrastructure” to the people. Port Commissioner Claire Petrich told the group about the importance of open space as a buffer between industry and neighborhoods.

The Cascade Land Conservancy views the project as an important example of the goals of The Cascade Agenda. The Agenda calls for conserving urban green space to make communities more livable. By creating a natural buffer to the Port of Tacoma and limiting more residential encroachment, the CLC is helping the Port to thrive without the need to adjust hours of operation and contend with incompatible-use issues due to noise, lights, safety issues and residential traffic.

From an ecological standpoint, the property has a seasonal creek draining to Commencement Bay and supports coyote, deer, birds and other wildlife, which use the gulch for nesting and as a corridor to the water and north to Dash Point State Park.

For more information, visit http://www.greentacoma.org .

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