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Salmon Beach

Salmon Beach Slope is a steeply sloped, 3.77-acre passive open space near the west shore of Puget Sound in Tacoma.  Nearly the entire area is classified as a Critical Area under Tacoma’s Critical Areas Protection Ordinance (TMC 13.11) due to the presence of steep slopes and Washington State Department of Wildlife (WDFW) designated priority habitat for terrestrial animals. Salmon Beach Slope meets the City of Tacoma Land Use Regulatory Code for an “Erosion Hazard Area” and a “Landslide Hazard Area”. About 60% of the area has slopes in excess of 40%. Currently, there is little evidence of surficial erosion, and no evidence of recent deep-seated slope instability.


The dominant tree species in Salmon Beach are mainly native big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and madrone (Arbutus menziesii). The decades-long practice of tree topping on the upper slopes to preserve water views for houses on the top of the slope, has resulted in die-back and disease of trees and establishment of invasive shrub and groundcover species in open  areas.


Aerial View of Salmon Beach Slope

Photo: Salmon Beach Slope nestled between the Parkside neighborhood homes above and the Salmon Beach parking lot below.


In 2014, the property management of Salmon Beach Slope changed within the City of Tacoma to the Environmental Services Department (ESD). This transfer was accompanied by a utility rate increase that funds the active management of the area as well as other passive open space properties. ESD manages open space properties for the public benefits received when healthy forested areas actively improve stormwater quality and reduce runoff quantity through ecosystem services.


A 20-year Landscape Management Plan (LMP) was permitted for Salmon Beach Slope restoration activities in 2017.  The goal of the LMP is to reestablish native vegetation communities whose composition over the long term is sustainable and maximizes ecosystem services.


Salmon Beach Restoration Area


Photo: Salmon Beach Slope Habitat Restoration Area 


The Environmental Services six specific landscape management goals for the area include the following:

  • Achieving a sustainable target ecosystem
  • Maintaining slope stability and decreasing erosion
  • Improving wildlife habitat
  • Maximizing stormwater benefits
  • Working to protect public infrastructure and public safety
  • Vegetation Modification Requests for Private View Management

These goals will be achieved by developing a forest composition that improves age diversity, species diversity, and overall forest health.