Point Defiance Park is an essential part of living in Tacoma and the South Sound.
• Park memories
With most of its 702 acres undeveloped, Point Defiance is a last reminder of wilderness amid the regionís urban sprawl. It provides sanctuary for wildlife and native trees, a feeding ground for undersea creatures and a laboratory for studying ecosystems and natural history.
Drew Perine/The News Tribune
Gordon Anderson, 69, makes frequent low-tide visits to Point Defiance Park, where bluffs expose thousands of years of geologic activity. "Nature gives me such a super high," he says.
By SUSAN GORDON • The News Tribune
he Mountaineers tree is the kind of marvel Tacoma residents show out-of-town visitors. At 218 feet tall and nearly 71/2 feet in diameter, the Douglas fir dwarfs its surroundings in Point Defiance Park.
The 450-year-old tree towers on the edge of a centuries-old forest of other big firs, hemlocks and ancient cedars, one of just a few such sea-level stands still alive along the shore of Puget Sound.
“It’s kind of like a museum piece,” said vegetation ecologist Chris Chappell of the state Natural Heritage Program, which tracks and promotes conservation of native ecosystems and rare species.
Most of the park’s 702 acres haven’t been developed, making it an oasis of nature – home to flora and fauna absent elsewhere in the South Sound, where development has destroyed most of the original landscape, Chappell and other experts said.
The peninsula’s nearly vertical bluffs, up to 250 feet tall, expose evidence of tens of thousands of years of geologic activity. The surrounding nutrient-rich waters of the Tacoma Narrows and the Dalco Passage support a wealth of marine life.