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Schuster Slope Landscape Management

Schuster Slope

Schuster 1893

One of the defining characteristics of the Puget Sound region is the dynamic coastline, which includes more than 1,400 miles of beaches built out of sand and gravel from nearby bluffs.  These actively eroding bluffs, including Schuster Slope, are an essential part of our coastal ecosystems.  They provide a significant amount of coastal forest, support nesting birds and raptors, serve as refuge for native wildlife, and provide sediment and nourishment to our beaches as they erode along the shoreline.


 Site Conditions

Schuster 2015Schuster Slope is located along the west shore of Commencement Bay in Tacoma. The lack of healthy vegetation on the steep slopes, along with frequent rainfall, causes Schuster Slope to experience skin slides, debris flows and sloughing as it tries to revert to its pre-development, natural feeder bluff state.

Slope stability has been the focus of two previous City-led studies conducted by GeoEngineers, the first in 2000 and the second in 2014 (see reports under Additional Resources near the end of the page).


The entire Schuster Slope area is classified as a Critical Area under Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) 13.11 due to the steep slopes, wetlands, streams, and priority habitat (as defined by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife). For long-term management activities to occur, a 20-year permit under TMC 13.11 Critical Areas Preservation Code will allow Environmental Services to efficiently move forward with restoration actions and improve the slope stability. 


Highlights of the Schuster Slope Landscape Management Project

In a hurry? See the highlights on this project by viewing the Schuster Slope Stabilization and Restoration one-page handout.



Schuster Slope Management Unit Map - All Units



For more information regarding the progress of the Schuster Slope Landscape Management Plan, please contact the City of Tacoma Schuster Slope Project Manager:


                      Brandon Drucker

                      Environmental Services Department

                   (253) 993-0962



 Landscape Management Plan

In 2014, the City began a public process to create a landscape management plan for the Schuster Slope. The goal was to ensure the new plan was reflective of the current conditions, best available science, and regulation compliance.  Metro Parks Tacoma provided assistance with outreach while GeoEngineers and Landau Associates provided scientific analysis.

The result of the City's efforts is a 20-year landscape management plan built on the concept of achieving a target ecosystem composition to maximize the ecosystem services that Schuster Slope can provide. The vegetative management goals for the project area include:

  • Achieving a sustainable target ecosystem
  • Improving slope stability
  • Maximizing stormwater benefit
  • Increasing public safety and infrastructure protection

The management plan’s success depends on effective implementation and regular updates to incorporate the best available science and management techniques.

View the entire Schuster Slope Landscape Management Plan

Schuster Slope Landscape Management Plan (LMP) Annual Report


Schuster Slope Landscape Management Plan 2020/2021 Annual Report


Additional Resources


Tree Pruning

A long 3-acre band along the top of slope from South 4th Street to Division Way was worked over by City staff, pruning unhealthy limbs on many damaged and coppiced trees. A total of 179 individual trees were pruned, surveyed with handheld GPS units, and physically tagged. Click on the link below to view the new 2.8 acre work unit and the location of pruned trees.


Pruned Trees Map 


GeoEngineers Reports


2000 GeoEngineers Hillslope Area Study  between Schuster and Stadium Way


2014 GeoEngineers Baseline Condition Assessment Study