Tacoma Nature Center: Celebrating 40 Years

For 40 years, the Tacoma Nature Center has been a vital part of the South Sound community. To commemorate this milestone, the center has planned special anniversary celebration events and programs all year long.

Today the Tacoma Nature Center is a 71-acre nature preserve encompassing Snake Lake and the surrounding wetlands and forest. For many years, however, Snake Lake didn’t rate more attention than a wasteland. Its wet and brushy surroundings were visited most often by kids who bushwhacked in to fish or catch frogs.

The heart of the serpentine body of water has belonged to Metro Parks Tacoma since 1928, but the park property was neglected for decades. That all changed in the spring of 1969 when leaders of Tacoma’s budding environmental movement set out to preserve what is now a treasured resource. It took 10 more years of planning and lobbying for public money before the official opening of the center.

Now, 40 years after its opening, the Tacoma Nature Center is recognized as a cradle of environmental awareness. It aims to introduce children and young families to the importance of wetlands and wildlife conservation in an urban setting. “We all owe a great debt to the farsighted people who stepped in to save Snake Lake when it could have been filled in to make way for Highway 16,” said Aaron Pointer, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “Their efforts to preserve this urban oasis should be a model for all because of the critical need to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations.”

The Tacoma Nature Center enables visitors to develop a connection with and appreciation for the natural world year-round. They can stroll nature trails to observe native birds, animals and plants; peruse fascinating exhibits and collections; and participate in exciting nature programs and summer day camps.

“This has always been a special place for families and we are thrilled to share how much we have grown over the last 40 years,” says Michele Cardinaux, supervisor of the Tacoma Nature Center. “As part of our yearlong celebration, we’re especially excited about our Family Adventure Challenge, which will be running July-August.” Families can choose activities from the events calendar and earn points for each activity completed. Prizes will be awarded, says Cardinaux, “but the family camaraderie and connecting with nature are priceless.”

KELLY LENIHAN

TACOMA NATURE CENTER
1919 South Tyler St, Tacoma
253.404.3930
metroparkstacoma.org/tacomanaturecenter