Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
Wapato Hills is the largest contiguous parcel of undeveloped open space in Tacoma, and represents a unique opportunity for preservation of 23 acres of natural Urban Wildlife Habitat habitat. Wetlands atop a glacial drumlin and surrounding oak scrub shrub uplands provides habitat for a priority species, the Purple martin), hawks, neotropical migrants, mountain beaver and various other wildlife species. Historically the site provided habitat for the Mazama pocket gopher. Oregon white oak above a shrub layer of western hazelnut constitutes the primary vegetation. Secondary vegetative community associated with the wetlands include Douglas spirea, willow, slough sedge, black cottonwood, red alder, cascara and a grove of quaking aspen. Native vegetation is sufficiently dense to hold back penetration of non-native vegetative species and retain the landscape’s historical character. Our parcel offers two priority habitat conservation areas of urban natural open space and oak woodlands. An adjacent recharge area for the region’s scrub-shrub and forested areas will be protected by a native vegetation buffer. Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan designates the site for open space and recreation. A community based task force has worked for 2 1/2 years to preserve the project with City Council support. Our proposal request funds to acquire 23 acres of Urban Wildlife Habitat habitat. Subsequent acquisitions and developments will provide an 80 acre site with trails, viewpoints, an interpretive center and 14 acres reserved for a neighborhood park.