Metro Parks: Vandals wreak havoc on Tacoma's Garfield Gulch restoration project

Metro Parks and the Green Tacoma Partnership are asking for the public’s help in apprehending vandals who are maliciously damaging an environmental restoration project that has been under way for nearly seven years in the gulch abutting Garfield Park.

Volunteer Rob Girvin began dedicating time to the restoration of the green space in 2004. To date, he has personally logged more than 500 hours removing invasive plants and signed on as a CHIP In (Citizens Helping Improve Parks) leader to help mobilize community members who donated another 255 hours last year alone in support of the Green Tacoma Partnership. Girvin has invested hundreds of dollars of his own money replanting the area with native plants and has organized work parties to plant additional materials provided by the park district and various grant sources.

Between October 12 and 18, Girvin discovered vandals were senselessly uprooting the new vegetation that he and other CHIP In and Green Tacoma Partnership volunteers had painstakingly planted.

“We are finally seeing the fruits of our labor — an established native landscape,” Girvin said after seeing the destruction. “That is what is at risk.”

Open space like Garfield Gulch plays a critical role in storm water control by absorbing and holding rainwater. This helps control flooding and erosion that can be caused by heavy rains. Open spaces in urban areas also help to filter and clean water runoff from streets. Areas like Garfield Gulch are even more special because these truly natural areas within our urban setting are covered in trees which help to clean our air, reduce urban noise, and provide pockets for natural recreation within the city. The gulch’s proximity to Commencement Bay provides even more environmental benefits. It even serves as an educational resource, a living laboratory where Girvin will assist educators and students from neighboring Annie Wright and Stadium High Schools to study and explore.

On Thurs., Oct. 27, volunteers from DaVita will help Girvin by planting fifty, 4-6′ foot conifers provided through a Sustainable Tacoma grant.

The public’s help is needed to protect these important natural assets. “We’re asking all neighbors and those who hike the trails in Garfield Gulch to be on the lookout for the vandals who are undermining this vital restoration work,” said Joe Brady, Natural Resources Manager for Metro Parks Tacoma.

Anyone witnessing vandalism to park properties while the crime is occurring is asked to call 9-1-1.