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Metro Parks Today: March 2017

March 17, 2017

News & Notes


Tacoma Rocks!

Tacoma Rocks! is a Facebook group – with an accurate name, yes? – for people who paint “rocks, shells and earthly things to hide around Tacoma to brighten people’s day.” It’s something of a local movement. When The News Tribune wrote about the group in November, there were about 2,000 Facebook members. In February, the number was up to 6,500. Today there are nearly 9,000.

The idea is a lot like Monkeyshines, but year-round. The decorated rocks turn up in parks, along the shore and in other places throughout Tacoma, just waiting to be found.

So naturally, government stands ready to throw cold water on a cool movement like this, right?

Heck, no.

A Tacoma Rocker contacted us last month to ask about the official Metro Parks Tacoma position on leaving the painted rocks in parks managed by the district. I checked with Marina Becker, Metro Parks’ director of parks and natural resources, and here’s the short version of Metro Parks’ position: We’re happy to see people finding new ways to use their parks and just ask people to use common sense.

Common sense includes making sure the placement is safe and won’t be a danger to people, pets, facilities or equipment (such as lawnmowers – rocks can be especially dangerous when hit by fast-moving blades).

That’s pretty much it. Common sense covers a lot of ground.

In my two years with Metro Parks, we’ve had questions about Pokémon Go, geocaching and similar activities. Most of the time, parks managers have two things to say: 1. It’s terrific to see parks getting used in ways the district’s founders in 1907 couldn’t have foreseen. 2. Please use common sense. If down the road painted rocks start filling up and detracting from natural areas, or are left where they shouldn’t be left, or start posing a danger, or someone plans a massive event that requires a special use permit, then we’ll talk about it down the road. But for now? Paint away.

Tacoma Rocks people, by the way, talked about do’s and don’ts early on. A pinned post in the group by Brooke Speiser that begins “Rules…Rules…Rules….” includes tips: Don’t hide them inside stores without permission. Don’t leave them in produce bins. Don’t cuss.

Incidentally, Tacoma Rocks is a fun preschool activity at Tacoma Nature Center, which is managed by Michele Cardinaux of Metro Parks. And there are more than a few Metro Parks employees active on the Tacoma Rocks Facebook page. #TacomaRocks.

Advisory council volunteers needed

Volunteering with Metro Parks might bring to mind beach cleanups, Fort Nisqually interpretation and park stewardship, but … well, actually those are GREAT ways to help take care of your district. Service on an advisory council is a way to put your professional expertise about education, fitness, arts and business to work for the benefit of your community. The councils meet regularly with Park Board and staff liaisons to review and discuss all manner of operations, district policies and programming and to make recommendations. There are four:

  • Active Lifestyles & Community Wellness:
    Adult sports and fitness, swimming and aquatic programs, youth programming, specialized recreation and other programs, facilities and services. (At least two open seats)
  • Business & Responsive Agency:
    Business planning, financial sustainability, revenue development and quality assurance activities. (Five open seats)
  • Arts & Heritage:
    Historic preservation, special events and arts programming. (Two open seats)
  • Nature & Environment:
    Environmental education, marine and shoreline issues, open space, garden management – and parks. (One open seat)

To apply, fill out an application or call (253) 305-1065 with questions.


Thompson profile
Michael Thompson is public information manager
of Metro Parks Tacoma.

Contact him at (253) 305-1092 or