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caption: The eroding bluff at the tip of Point Defiance in Tacoma, with Five Mile Drive atop it.
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The eroding bluff at the tip of Point Defiance in Tacoma, with Five Mile Drive atop it.
Credit: Geoengineers

How are Washington's parks feeling the effects of climate change?

Summer drives are a way of life here in the Pacific Northwest.

You know the drill: Drive out to a scenic viewpoint, inhale that fresh air, feel the sunshine. It's a reward for making it through another drizzly, bone-chilling winter.

For over a century, Five Mile Drive — built on top of the bluffs at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma — has given park-goers one of the most stunning views of Puget Sound, right from their car.

But last month, Metro Parks Tacoma announced that the outer loop was permanently closed to vehicles after a geotechnical assessment found that the erosion of the bluffs posed a safety risk.

The report did not explicitly link the erosion to climate change, but park officials say they believe there is a connection.

So, how are Washington's parks responding to the effects climate change is having on our coastlines, forests and mountains?

Soundside producer Noel Gasca talked to Marty Stump, chief planning officer for Metro Parks Tacoma, about how the agency is planning to create a more climate-resilient Point Defiance.

Later, Soundside host Libby Denkmann talks to Lisa Lantz, parks stewardship manager for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, about the ways climate change has already altered how we interact with nature.