February 8, 2017
Fort Steilacoom Park has been a long-standing home for the great outdoors, right behind Pierce College. Hosting events from bike marathons to festivals, as well as providing over 7 miles of walking and jogging trails, an off-leash dog park, and a children’s play park, this 340-acre park, "…has been a great escape between classes" says _____, a student a Pierce.
This year the park is getting refreshing additions and touch-ups to better serve the many people and pups who walk its trails every day. Due to be finished mid-February, the City of Lakewood is repaving the path circling Lake Waughop and building a viewing platform for the lake, while our own volunteers from the Envirnmental Sudies courses and their professors are tackling the invasive flora that drives away the native plants.
The wide expanse of land has also been a haven to the smaller animals still living within the city. Throughout the park live rabbits, squirrels, ducks, snakes, owls, and the occasional deer passing through. The park is a crucial environmental landmark of the Puget Sound area.
Fort Steilacoom Park has faced several challenges throughout its different stages. The barns that were once in constant use by man and animal became derelict and unused, some already torn down and the others boarded up and left to decay. Many invasive species have started to infest the land; anyone who has visited the parks trails has seen the blackberry bushes consuming the acreage, and the signs warning of toxic algae in the water of Lake Waughop. The algae has made the lake unswimmable and its fish inedible. The path around the water has been in disrepair for an extensive period of time with water flooding over the path in the annual rainy season.
Fort Steilacoom Park has taken on large improvement projects before. Some of these include the removal of the dangerous barns, the creation of multiple Old Western State memorials, the playground, the original paving, the baseball fields, and the picnic tables. All of these previous enhancements have been exceedingly well-built and maintained, and now the city is taking them a step further.
The renovations are already underway, having begun in December 2016. The new pavement for the lake path will improve the accessibility for strollers and wheelchairs, while the viewing platform will allow for a beautiful overlook on the water. This work is running the City of Lakewood The renovations have been long-awaited and will improve the overall usefulness of the entire park, making it enjoyable to more people and dogs alike.