Friends of Spanaway Lake (FOSL)

To Improve Lake Water Quality -

FOSL is composed of the community of Pierce County Citizens who desire to protect the uses provided by Spanaway Lake

The Friends of Spanaway Lake (FOSL) is a 501c3 non-profit group with the following goals:

The Friends of Spanaway Lake is a community organization of local citizens comprised
of property owners, users of the lake and other interested parties dedicated to:

  1. the preservation of water quality,
  2. fish and wildlife habitat enhancement,
  3. protection from environmental hazards,
  4. education, and Including communication of lake safety, preservation and protection of property and property rights.

These objectives will be attained by a combination of citizen engagement and working
with local and state government and other appropriate agencies for the continued
vitality of Spanaway Lake.

Above from our bylaws.

Note about our group forming from Mel Oleson - Coordinator:

The friends of Spanaway Lake (FOSL) is now a reality that will benefit Spanaway Lake and the lake community.  The January 25th meeting was attended by fifty plus persons who saw that if we did not organize that we would lose control of the future of Spanaway Lake.
Thus, with the boring yet necessary part of organizing done, (see bylaws tab) and a great board of directors elected (see minutes) the FOSL presence can now be felt. Councilman McCune's Q&A demonstrates how we can connect.

Felt how?  We now have a voice at the centers of power when it comes to what happens to Spanaway Lake and all those people who use it and creatures that call it home.  Resource to community; yes, Spanaway Lake is the host to 500,000 people per year according to statistics from the Parks department.  Boaters, fishermen, swimmers, nature lovers, inspired artists and many others use the Lake for a relief from the urban pressures of the modern world.    This number does not even include the people who access the lake from non-park locations such as the Lakeside drive walkers and scenic car drivers.  With a unified voice provided by FOSL we can push the lake communities vision of what the lake needs if it is to be a resource and asset to the community for years to come. 

With FOSL the lake communities need and desires for the lake can be harvested into a complete plan for the lakes long term survival.  Survival as a resource to us all is not assured.  A 2015 study of the lake was funded by the state, thanks to Rep Sawyer, to determine if the toxic algae problem was fixable.  As the study quickly determined it was not fixable without an organized effort to control certain chemicals that are fertilizing the lake.  That study also surfaced many other concerns from fish stocking to invasive species.  The FOSL board and lake community can now take the lead in prioritizing these challenges (your input) and create a viable plan forward.  This would not happen without the creation of FOSL- it would be left to government agencies- who with good intentions- may not really understand Spanaway lake the way the lake community does.

OK, enough of the soap box.  There is another aspect of FOSL that is very exciting- creating a lake community in which we actually get to know each other and make friendships and partnerships that enrich our lives. A lake community is not just those who live near the lake- it is everyone who appreciates and uses Spanaway Lake.  That earlier list of users- they are a critical part of the "Lake community"  While the board of directors has a lot on its plate- we can not forget that it is the lake community that will ultimately give FOSL the “muscle” to move priorities onto others lists.  Let’s look forward to some great community making ideas coming in from you, such as:

  • Human powered boat races – milk carton, kayaks, paddle boards, canoes and skulls
  • Triathlon and 5K type events.  A contact at JBLM suggested a triathlon combining the fort and  Spanaway lake would be a natural.
  • Fishing derbies for young and old - who does not love seeing a smiling kid with a fish.
  • Christmas boat lights and caroling; maybe in conjunction with Fantasy Lights
  • Hydroplane races with much better viewing for community
  • Bass or trout fishing tournament- there are some big bass in this lake!
  • Cook-offs- fish, chili, ethnic foods- (you cook it and I’ll eat it.)

Send your ideas to

For those who like to get wet and dirty there are other projects on the FOSL menu that would not be possible without its organizational clout.  Some potential projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Invasive plant removal- especially on some county property overrun by blackberries
  • Yellow iris removal using combination of volunteers and summer county employees
  • Lake characteristic data collection- we need to know a lot more about the chemistry, currents, temperatures and oxygen levels in the lake to understand what to do.
  • Toxic Algae watch- in cooperation with Tacoma- Pierce County Health department FOSL can coordinate the data that will lead to understanding the where and why these algae blooms occur.
  • Lake bottom mapping- detailed mapping of the lake bottom using everything from depth finders to scuba divers.  This would include a vegetation mapping project to support future noxious weed removal.
  • This list can go on forever- again if you have ideas please send them to

FOSL; It’s a good thing and with all of us the Lake will get well and we will have it well into the future. 

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