South Tacoma wetlands conservation expands

Tacoma City Council approved a resolution Tuesday authorizing the city to acquire nearly six acres of land in order to increase the amount of open space in South Tacoma.

The move allows Tacoma to execute an agreement with Pierce County to acquire approximately 5.87 acres located within the South Tacoma Wetlands Conservation Area, near the intersection of South 52nd Street and Mullen Street, for open space conservation purposes, according to documents prepared by City staff. The City will also execute a stewardship agreement and restrictive covenant related to the parcel. Pierce County and the seller, City Acres LLC, entered into a purchase and sale agreements stipulating that the sale should be finalized by July 12.

The City is working with the Conservation Futures Program to purchase the site then to transfer it to City ownership and place it into permanent conservation status. The Conservation Futures Program is providing the majority of the $411,000 purchase price. The City’s contribution is $13,030 (ten percent of assessed value) paid from Tacoma’s open space fund.

Located within the 40-acre South Tacoma Wetlands Conservation Area, this site is contiguous with other city conservation parcels and is the second of two in this area which the City is seeking to acquire this year with Conservation Futures funding. The first purchase, the 2.16 acre Shaughnessy site, was successfully acquired earlier this year. The purchase approved this week means the City will own a total of approximately 23 acres out of the total 40 acres targeted for conservation in this area.

Councilmember Ryan Mello said the conservation efforts helps preserve an area “that is gentrifying quickly.”

In May, City Council approved a resolution directing City staff to submit a grant application to help increase the amount of open space in the same area. The application requests $500,000 from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s (WWRP’s) Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to expand the total area in conservation status, enhance habitat connectivity and function, and increase the potential for public access and enjoyment of the habitat corridor. The specific parcels to be acquired will be determined based upon consideration of habitat quality and the willingness of property owners to sell. The deadline for the application was May 1. Grant recipients will be announced in June 2013.

More information about the City of Tacoma’s open space habitat and recreation plan is online here.