The City’s Open Space Program is intended to conserve, activate, and manage open space and urban forest lands consistent with City policies and regulations. The City has segregated Open Space into two categories: Active and Passive. Active areas are those that are developed for and dedicated to community access and recreation. Passive open space properties comprise approximately 488 acres of City-owned forests, wetlands, streams, and habitat areas. Generally, these areas are undeveloped and covered with vegetation; many are regulated by the City’s Critical Areas Preservation Code; and most provide or have the potential to provide benefits to stormwater quantity and quality. The distinction of active vs. passive does not exclude an active function on a passive property or vice versa but more clearly defines internal City roles and funding.
In 2014, the passive open space parcels were transferred from the City Planning and Development Services to Environmental Services. This transfer ensures that these passive open space parcels will be managed and maintained in a manner that, in addition to other benefits, increases the stormwater benefit for public good through increased vegetation diversity, tree canopy cover, and overall absorption. The active management of these areas also results in the reduction of invasive vegetation, increase in tree health, and reduction of trash and pollution. Active open space sites remain managed by the City’s Public Works Department, specifically the Real Property Services section.
View the Open Space Map
The primary goal for passive open space properties is that they have a native species dominated, sustainable, and functioning forest. Management Plans are needed in many areas to achieve this goal and to permit the activities needed for improvement in critical areas (i.e., steep slopes and wetlands/wetland buffers). Management plans with varying degrees of intensity based on ownership, existing conditions and community interest have been created and are being implemented.
Open Space Plans
First Creek – View the First Creek Action Plan.
Julia’s Gulch – View the five-year stewardship plan. Other resources include the Habitat Assessment Report, Trail Proposal, and Trail Plan. For additional information on Julia's Gulch Visit the Julia's Gulch stewardship website.
Wapato Hills – View the Wapato Hills five-year stewardship plan (pending).
Schuster Slope Landscape Management Plan – Get additional information on the Schuster Slope.
Mason Gulch Landscape Management Plan (pending) – Get additional information on Mason Gulch.
In 2015-2016, Forterra and American Forestry Management (AFM) applied the Forest Landscape Assessment Tool (FLAT) to over 500 passive open space acres thorughout the City of Tacoma. This Strategic 20-Year Passive Open Space Plan will help City staff focus efforts on prioritized areas.