May 19, 2023 — The Port of Tacoma has received the 2023 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA) for its continued environmental leadership and in recognition of the recently completed Lower Wapato Creek habitat site in the Tacoma Tideflats.

The port worked in partnership with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and their Historic Preservation Office on development and construction of the Lower Wapato Creek site with the goal of restoring fish access, expanding and improving fish and wildlife habitat, and to augment the Puyallup Tribe’s fish and wetland habitat site located upstream from this site.

The project design incorporated cultural and habitat conditions requested by the Puyallup Tribe,  including preservation of culturally significant trees that were unearthed during construction. Three culturally modified and thirteen culturally significant trees were preserved and remain on the site in protected upland areas.

Restoration activities at the Lower Wapato Creek habit site included:

  • Removal and disposal of 14,393 tons of arsenic impacted soil from the property prior to development.
  • Replacing two concrete culverts with a fish-passable full-span bridge to provide unimpeded fish access.
  • Relocating Wapato Creek from a ditched system to a longer, meandering stream channel and associated wetland.
  • Reestablishing tidal wetlands and floodplain connectivity through restoration of ten acres of tidally influenced stream channel, mudflats, marsh, wetlands, and intertidal estuary and more than eight acres of forested upland wetland buffer. 
  • Preservation of more than 100 native trees and planting more than 150,000 new trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants and 40 species of native grasses.

“One of the many ways the Port of Tacoma continues to successfully accomplish its mission to “promote prosperity, trade and jobs, while protecting and enhancing our environment,” is through our comprehensive remediation and habitat restoration programs,” said Deanna Keller, Port of Tacoma Commission President. “The Lower Wapato Creek site is a prime example of our commitment to constructing advance mitigation sites to compensate for impacts associated with future Port projects and to do so in a way that delivers high quality fish and wildlife habitat and positive environmental impact.”

More details on the Lower Wapato Creek habitat site can be found on the Port’s website.