Year In Review: Port of Tacoma Gilmur Memorial Shoreline

In July, the Port of Tacoma opened the $220,000 Richard C. “Dick” Gilmur Shoreline Restoration and Kayak Launch located at 5002 Marine View Drive on the east side of Commencement Bay.

The site’s restored shoreline provides habitat for the hundreds of birds and other wildlife that live along the storm-scoured shore. Native plants help anchor soil and provide shade, food and refuge. Other environmental features of the site include a “feeder” bluff that erodes like the natural shoreline and deposits sediments to beaches down current. Large woody material along the shoreline softens wave impacts to reduce erosion and provide hiding and resting places for young fish. The parking area features pervious pavement that allows stormwater to filter into the ground rather than carry pollutants into the bay. A wide ADA-accessible gravel path leads from the planted bluff to the rocky beach, allowing car-top boats to launch from the shore. Indeed, kayak paddles and seal fins slice through the water side by side in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay, appearing to wave at the cargo ships, cranes and other industrial activity nearby. People and wildlife now have a new place to explore nature near one of North America’s largest container ports.

Neighbors, some of whom rent the property beneath their homes from the Port, are working to form a stewardship group to help care for the site.

The Port of Tacoma bought 17 acres of shoreline along Marine View Drive in 2005 for $2.85 million to use for future habitat mitigation and restoration. With 9 acres of submerged tidelands and 8 acres of uplands, this property provides areas for the Port to conserve and protect intertidal and shallow sub-tidal habitat near port operations. The Dick Gilmur Shoreline Restoration and Kayak Launch is among the first pieces of the property to be enhanced. As future Port development in the industrial areas of the Tideflats calls for mitigation elsewhere in Commencement Bay, the Port plans to restore the valuable intertidal habitat once prevalent in the bay. The property’s restored shoreline would provide a suitable home for eel grass, a resting and feeding area for juvenile salmon before they head out to Puget Sound, and home for the hundreds of birds and other wildlife that already carve out an existence along the shore.

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Port of Tacoma Commencement Bay habitat restoration, kayak launch open to public (07/06/11) —