Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

Op-Ed: Help keep East Bay regional parks safe and open

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

View of Mt. Diablo from the Stewartville Trail in the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve on March 22, 2020. Photos by Allen Payton

A message from East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert E. Doyle

In the Bay Area we are blessed with over a million acres of beautiful public parkland. Californians love to get outdoors to enjoy nature and exercise, in fact they depend on it. For residents and their families it is an essential and fundamental part of their daily lives. Parks make lives better.

We are all currently facing the greatest health pandemic of the last 100 years, and a “Shelter in Place” order that must be taken seriously.

View from the Stewartville Trail on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

We want to help get everyone through this crisis by keeping our parks open, but the safety of the public – and that of our employees – has to be the highest priority. Like you, many of our staff are sheltering in place, taking care of themselves and their loved ones. This creates a significant challenge for keeping our parks open.

We have tried to keep our 73 parks and over 1,300 miles of trails open through this crisis, but what happened this past weekend was unsafe and distressing. Thousands of Bay Area residents headed to nature – overwhelming parks, parking areas, and staff. Overcrowding has already forced many of our fellow park agencies to consider closing.

Our current limited staff is doing its best to keep up with the community’s need to exercise and get outside. However, staff still needs to respond to emergencies, remove hazardous trees, and work on fuels reduction as we prepare, along with CalFire, for another serious fire season. I want to express my appreciation to all park staff everywhere, working hard during this emergency.

Many of our building facilities have been closed for some time to reduce the potential spread of the virus, including children’s play areas and structures, picnic areas, visitor centers, and campgrounds. For health and safety reasons, park restrooms and drinking fountains are also not available.

View of the Senator John A. Nejedly Bridge in Antioch from the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Bend The Curve

We need your help to keep our parks safe for you and our staff. Because of recent park overcrowding, use of picnic areas, and unsafe group gatherings and meet-ups, we have decided to “Temporarily Close” specific parks and park areas from Friday, March 27 through Thursday, April 30. A few parks are fully closed, while only some parking lots and access points are closed at others. We hope this will help us limit overcrowding and help “Bend the Curve.” For up-to-date information on park area closures go to www.ebparks.org/coronavirus.

We are coordinating with health departments daily. If unsafe overcrowding continues, or the public does not maintain social distancing – even for dogs – we may be forced to close additional areas. As Governor Newsom said last Monday, “We can’t bend the curve if everyone is out. I don’t want to close big, beautiful open spaces. But we can’t see what we saw over the weekend.”

I have received many emails, since we announced additional closures, concerned that their favorite park or parking area has been closed, or that restrooms are not open. On behalf of the Park District, I would like to thank the public for their understanding and cooperation. We have tried to spread closures across the District as best we can. However, safety is the priority.

The good news: as the largest regional park system in the nation, the vast majority of our parks, open space, and trails remain open, as are our 300-miles of paved regional trails.

If they are to remain open, we need your help. Together we can BEND THE CURVE!

Also, check our website before you go to see updates on any closures. Be sure to “go” before you go and wash your hands before and after your visit a park or trail. Bring hand sanitizer if you have it.

While the park district normally allows dogs off leash in many parks, because of the high use, for public safety and to maintain social distancing, the district is asking that dogs be on a leash.

Robert Doyle is general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District. Doyle has been with the Park District since 1975 and has served as General Manager since 2011. The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest park district of its kind in the United States with 73 regional parks on over 125,000 acres of open space.

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OP-ED: COVID-19 mitigation is not vacation

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

By Don Amador

With hospitals and emergency responders running out of masks and other PPE in California and elsewhere, it should come as no surprise that local, state, and federal land managers are expanding the scope of their COVID-19 temporary access restrictions to popular destination recreation sites that – are or have the potential to -attract large crowds of visitors.

For example, California State Parks issued a news release late last night that stated, it is taking additional safety measures to reduce crowds and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Many state parks and beaches received record visitation over the weekend which made it impossible for the public to implement appropriate social distancing practices.

LINK TO STATE PARKS ANNOUNCEMENT

https://www.parks.ca.gov/NewsRelease/945

The Nevada BLM issued a temporary closure order for the Sand Mountain Recreation Area near Fallon, Nevada.   As many of you know, the Sand Mountain OHV Area is a popular destination site for families and clubs that enjoy riding dirt-bikes, ATVs, SxSs, and 4WD vehicles.

LINK TO NV BLM CLOSURE OF SAND MOUNTAIN

https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/Emergency%20Closure%20Order.pdf

Based on photos and stories posted on social media, it appears that many motorized and non-motorized recreationists have misinterpreted various “shelter-at-home” orders from state or county government as authorization for them to take a short or long-term vacation – often with large groups – on public lands.

Until we collectively “Flatten the Curve,”   recreationists should honor the stay at home directives and if they do go out for trail activities it should be close to home and/or in dispersed areas sans large crowds where social distancing is practiced. Respecting the seriousness of this issue will hasten its resolution and help expedite the withdrawal of closure orders and the reopening of public lands for both casual use and permitted events.

The professional healthcare workers, law enforcement officials, and park maintenance staff that I know, will be greatly appreciative of us doing our part to address the coronavirus.

Amador has 30 years in the recreation management and advocacy profession. Don is president of Quiet Warrior Racing, a recreation consulting company located in Oakley, CA. Don is also CEO of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance, a non-profit group that works with volunteers and land agencies to recover, restore, and reopen recreation facilities damaged by wildfires. Don may be reached via email at: damador@quietwarriorracing.com

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Park District closes regional parks, restricts parking to limit overcrowding for public and staff safety; trails still open

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Additionally, park picnic areas are closed, and all group gatherings prohibited.

By Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor, East Bay Regional Park District

The COVID-19 health emergency remains a serious and evolving situation. This past weekend, the Park District saw more people in parks than on a busy holiday. “We can’t bend the curve if everyone is out. I don’t want to close big, beautiful open spaces. But we can’t see what we saw over the weekend,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday. On Monday, March 23, 2020, Governor Newsom ordered temporary closures for vehicular traffic at State parks in five California counties: Los Angeles County, Marin County, San Mateo County, Sonoma County, and San Diego County.

Unsafe overcrowding is a concern. While the Park District hopes to keep parks and trails open, some closures are necessary to limit overcrowding and maintain social distancing. The list below of parks, developed park areas, parking lots, and entrance points will be closed beginning Friday, March 27, 2020, through Thursday, April 30, 2020. Trails will remain accessible on a walk-in, bike-in basis.

“We are all in this together,” said Park District General Manager Robert Doyle. “We want to help everyone during this crisis by keeping parks open, but safety of the public and our employees is our top priority.”

“If parks are too crowded, please help us keep people safe by going home,” added Doyle.

Ways the public can help keep parks open include:

  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from other people
  • No picnicking, groups, gatherings, or meetups (only immediate households should be together)
  • Pack-in, pack-out trash, including dog poop (there is limited trash collection during COVID-19)

Park visitation and park use will continue to be monitored closely, with additional closures possible. Currently, state and county health departments have told us they want East Bay Regional Parks to remain open and accessible for outdoor activity if possible. However, it may also be necessary to close more park areas based on overcrowding or additional orders from State or local health agencies.

We thank the public for their cooperation and understanding during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Keeping parks open for the public is challenging with limited staffing and the Park District is doing its best to balance the requirements of State and local health agencies’ “Shelter in Place” orders, and the community’s need for exercise and stress relief.

The public is encouraged to check ebparks.org for up-to-date information on closures.

COVID-19 CLOSURES THROUGH THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2020:

(All picnic areas, restrooms, water fountains, swim facilities/areas, playgrounds, campgrounds, group campsites, backcountry campsites, sports fields, kiosks, and reservable facilities are closed.)

NEW CLOSURES BEGINNING FRIDAY, MARCH 27:

  • Black Diamond – Upper Parking Lot Closed (Parking available at Sidney Flat)
  • Castle Rock Recreation Area Closed
  • Contra Loma Closed (Trails Open from Frederickson Lane)
  • Crown Beach – Otis Parking Lot Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Del Valle Closed (Trail Access from Arroyo Staging Area Only)
  • Diablo Foothills (Limited Parking for Trail Access)
  • Garin/Dry Creek – Meyer’s Garden Closed
  • Point Isabel – Main Parking Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only
  • Reinhardt Redwood Regional ParkRedwood Road Gate Closed
  • Piedmont Stables (Boarders Allowed to Care for Horses)
  • Roberts Regional Recreation Main Park Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Shadow Cliffs Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve – Tunnel Road Entrance Closed (All Other Access Points Open)
  • Sunol Regional Wilderness Closed
  • Tilden Botanic Garden – Garden Closed

PREVIOUS CLOSURES (STILL IN EFFECT):

Anthony Chabot Closures

  • Marciel Gate
  • Chabot Equestrian Center Parking Lot (Boarders Allowed for Care for Horses)
  • Skyline Stables (Boarders Allowed for Care for Horses)

Ardenwood Closures

  • Ardenwood Closed

Bay Point Shoreline Closures

  • Closed Due to Construction

Big Break Closures

  • Big Break Visitor Center

Black Diamond Closures

  • Mine Closed
  • Sidney Flats Visitor Center
  • Greathouse Visitor Center

Briones Closures

  • Bear Creek Staging Area

Regional Trails Closures

  • Lafayette-Moraga Old Moraga Ranch Trail (Closed due to Landslide)

Coyote Hills Closures

  • Main Parking Lots
  • Coyote Hills Visitor Center

Crown Beach Closures

  • McKay Parking Lot (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Crab Cove Visitor Center

Del Valle Closures

  • Del Valle Visitor Center

Garin/Dry Creek/Pioneer Closures

  • Visitor Center
  • Apple Orchard

Lake Chabot Closures

  • Boat Ramp (No Boating/No Quagga Inspection)

Lake Temescal Closures

  • South Parking Lot

Leona Canyon Closures

  • Main Staging Area

MLK Shoreline Closures

  • Tidewater Staging Area
  • Tidewater Outdoor Recreation Office
  • Tidewater Oakland Strokes Operations

Quarry Lakes Closures

  • Boat Ramp (No Boating/No Quagga Inspection)

Sunol Closures

  • Sunol Visitor Center

Tidewater Closures (See MLK Shoreline)

  • All Areas Closed

Tilden Closures

  • All Picnic Areas Along Lake Anza and Brook roads
  • Fern Picnic Area Parking
  • Indian Camp Parking Lot, Playground, and Picnic Area
  • Lone Oak Parking Area
  • Lakeview Parking Lot
  • Mineral Springs Parking Lot – No Trails
  • Lake Anza Road and Parking Area
  • Tilden Golf Course
  • Golf Course Gated Lot (Bottom Half)
  • Steam Trains/Golden Gate Live Steamers
  • Merry-Go-Round
  • Native Here Nursery
  • South Park Drive (Continued Newt Closure Past April 1)

Tilden Botanic Garden Closures

  • Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Tilden Nature Area Closures

  • Tilden Nature Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Tilden Little Farm
  • Environmental Education Center
  • Indian Camp Parking Lot

Wildcat Canyon Closures

  • Walk-In Entrance Trail into the Alvarado Picnic Area

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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2020 Contra Costa County Fair canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

By Joe Brengle, CEO Contra Costa County Event Park

ANTIOCH – As a major event facility, The Contra Costa Event Park has been monitoring the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. There is no higher priority than the safety of our Fairgrounds family, patrons, vendors, promoters and sponsors at the Contra Costa Event Park. Due to this ongoing situation the Contra Costa Event Park Board of Directors met last night and unanimously voted to cancel the 2020 Contra Costa County Fair scheduled for May 14 – 17.

The Fair Board realizes that the individual’s most affected by this cancellation is the youth livestock exhibitors of our county. The Fair Board did approve to let a committee of Contra Costa County 4H and FFA parents work on a Youth Fair where these youth livestock exhibitors could show and auction their animals. The Fair Board agreed to provide support to this committee as needed. If the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Contra Costa County Health Department, or the Governor of California lengthen the current restrictions and orders, it is possible that a Youth Fair will not take place. At this time dates for Youth Fair are yet to be determined.

We thank the community for your continued support during these challenging times.

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Contra Costa County Fair May 13 – 16.

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3/17/20 UPDATE: East Bay Regional Park District building facilities closed until April 7, 2020; parks and trails remain open

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Issued 3/17/2020

By Dave Mason, East Bay Regional Park District

A “Shelter in Place” order has been issued through Tuesday, April 7, 2020 for six Bay Area counties – San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda – prohibiting non-essential business and directing residents to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible.

Based on the “Shelter in Place” order, and by an emergency order of East Bay Regional Park District General Manager, for the health and safety of the public and our employees, Park District environmental education centers, visitor centers, and many of our developed public facilities, including bathrooms, water fountains, and other amenities, are temporarily closed. All Regional Trails are open. Per the “Shelter in Place” order, outdoor activity is allowed, such as walking, hiking, and running – as long as specific social distancing requirements are followed. Studies show outdoor activity benefits physical health and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

The COVID-19 health emergency is an unprecedented and evolving situation. Please be aware, additional precautions and closures may be necessary.

If you do visit a trail in a Regional Park, please follow all Social Distancing Requirements and bring water and hand sanitizer. Due to minimal staffing, bathrooms and water fountains will not be available. Additionally, please do not congregate in parking lots or at trailheads per the “Shelter in Place” social distancing requirements.

“Shelter in Place” Order Social Distancing Requirements:

  • Maintain at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible, or use hand sanitizer
  • Cover coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands)
  • Regularly clean high-touch surfaces
  • Not shaking hands

We understand the closure of building facilities and amenities may be challenging. Together we can get through this difficult period and ask our visitors to follow all guidelines. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

The health and safety of our employees and the public is our top priority. Temporary closure of some Regional Parks was necessary on Monday, March 16, due to limited staffing and to address “Shelter in Place” order needs.

Please see the FAQ below to answer your most immediate questions.

Can I visit Regional Parks?

Yes, however, only trails will be open for use. All building facilities will be closed, including bathrooms, water fountains, and other amenities. Visitors must follow “Shelter in Place” order social distancing requirements (see above).

What building facilities and amenities are closed?

Building Facilities: Bathrooms, Water Fountains, Visitor Centers and Facilities, Indoor Rental Facilities, Campgrounds, and Swim Facilities.

Visitors Centers/Facilities: Ardenwood Historic Farm (Fremont), Big Break Visitor Center (Oakley), Black Diamond Mines Visitor Center (Antioch), Coyote Hills Visitor Center (Fremont), Crown Beach Crab Cove Visitor Center (Alameda), Garin Barn (Hayward), Sunol Visitor Center (Sunol), Tilden Botanic Garden (Berkeley), Tilden Environmental Education Center (Berkeley), Little Farm (Berkeley).

All Indoor Rental Facilities: Brazilian Room at Tilden Park (Berkeley), Shoreline Room at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline (Oakland), Fern Cottage at Kennedy Grove (El Sobrante), Beach House at Lake Temescal (Oakland).

All Campgrounds: Anthony Chabot and Del Valle

All Swim Facilities: Contra Loma, Cull Canyon, Don Castro, Castle Rock, Lake Anza at Tilden, Lake Temescal, Shadow Cliffs, Robert’s Regional Park, Quarry Lakes

What can I expect when visiting a Regional Park during the “Shelter in Place” Order?
Visitors can expect buildings, bathrooms, and water fountains to be closed. There will also be no trash collection, so we are asking all visitors to pack out all trash they bring into Regional Parks (Pack it in, Pack it out). Visitors may also see fewer Park District staff in parks. The Park District will be at minimally required staffing levels while the “Shelter in Place” order is in effect.

What parks are affected?

All Regional Parks are affected by the closure of building facilities and amenities. Trails remain open in the following parks.

Anthony Chabot
Antioch/Oakley Bay Point
Big Break
Bishop Ranch
Black Diamond Mines
Briones
Brushy Peak
Camp Arroyo
Carquinez Strait
Castle Rock
Claremont Canyon
Contra Loma
Coyote Hills
Crockett Hills
Crown Beach

Cull Canyon
Del Valle
Diablo Foothills
Don Castro
Dry Creek Pioneer
Dublin Hills
Five Canyons
Garin
Hayward Regional Shoreline
Huckleberry Botanic
Kennedy Grove
Lake Chabot
Las Trampas

Leona Canyon
Little Hills

Martin Luther King Jr.
McLaughlin Eastshore
Miller/Knox
Mission Peak
Morgan Territory
Ohlone
Oyster Bay
Pleasanton Ridge
Point Isabel
Point Pinole
Quarry Lakes
Radke Martinez
Reinhardt Redwood
Roberts
Round Valley

San Pablo Bay
Shadow Cliffs
Sibley
Sobrante Ridge
Sunol
Sycamore Valley
Temescal
Tilden
Vargas Plateau
Waterbird
Wildcat Canyon

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East Bay Regional parks and trails remain open, all programs cancelled through April 12

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution and in continued response to the COVID-19 virus, the East Bay Regional Park District is canceling all programs and closing all Visitor Centers, rental facilities, campgrounds and swim facilities through April 12,2020.

Currently, all regional parks and trails (except those listed below) remain open to the public. We understand that nature is a great place to get exercise and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul – especially in time of crisis. A walk on a trail, around your neighborhood or private backyard will allow you to breathe fresh air and help to reduce stress and anxiety

Public and employee safety is a priority to us! Out of an abundance of caution in continued response to the COVID-19 virus planning, East Bay Regional Park District is implementing facility closures to protect the public and our employees to reduce the potential for exposure to COVID-19.

Effective at 5pm Sunday, March 15, Park District facilities that WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 12, 2020 are:

All Visitor Centers

Ardenwood Historic Farm (Fremont), Big Break Visitor Center (Oakley), Black Diamond Mines Visitor Center (Antioch), Coyote Hills Visitor Center (Fremont), Crown Beach Crab Cove Visitor Center (Alameda), Garin Barn (Hayward), Sunol Visitor Center (Sunol), Tilden Botanic Garden, Environmental Education Center AND Little Farm (Berkeley).

All Internal Rental Facilities

Brazilian Room at Tilden Park (Berkeley), Shoreline Room at Martin Luther King, Jr. Shoreline (Oakland), Fern Cottage at Kennedy Grove (El Sobrante), Beach House at Lake Temescal (Oakland).

All programs, paid or free

This includes all school programs, recreational programs and naturalist-directed programs.

All campgrounds

Anthony Chabot and Del Valle

All swim facilities at

Contra Loma, Cull Canyon, Don Castro, Shadow Cliffs, Lake Anza at Tilden, Lake Temescal, Pool at Robert’s Regional Park, Quarry Lakes

As a reminder, currently, all regional parks and trails (except those listed above) remain open to the public. If you do visit, please be prepared by bringing your own water and hand sanitizer.

We understand that nature is a great place to get exercise and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul – especially in time of crisis. A walk on a trail, around your neighborhood or private backyard will allow you to breathe fresh air and help to reduce stress and anxiety.

For more information visit www.ebparks.org/news/releases.htm.

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Antioch awarded $2.95 million state grant for park improvements

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Contra Loma Estates Park. Photo by City of Antioch Parks and Recreation Department.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Antioch City Council received positive news about a state grant the city was awarded for improvements to the Contra Loma Estates Park. The city applied for state funds through a competitive process designed to “create new parks and new recreation opportunities in underserved communities across California” according to the Statewide Parks Program webpage.

The park is located at the corner of Mahogany Way and Manzanita Way.

According to Nancy Kaiser, Antioch’s Parks and Recreation Department Director, there were “478 applications in this latest round” and “a $2.3 billion total ask.”

The funds are from Proposition 68 state parks and water bonds, which voters passed in 2018. It authorized “$4 billion in general obligation bonds for state and local parks, environmental protection projects, water infrastructure projects, and flood protection projects,” according to Ballotpedia.

“The state granted a total of $254.9 million and approved 62 projects statewide,” she added. “The Contra Loma Estates Park application was $2.9 million.”

The $2,952,000 in state funds will be used for the renovations to the park, including constructing new outdoor gym and exercise equipment, a shaded picnic and BBQ area, shaded structure, dog park, walking and jogging exercise pathway, climbing feature, lighting and fencing for existing basketball court, restroom, and lighting throughout the park.

The average grant request statewide was $4.8 million, and the average grant amount was $4.1 million, according to the California State Parks Statewide Parks Program webpage. It “is the largest park related grant program in California’s history.”

Only three projects in the county were approved. Two in Richmond and the one in Antioch.

Asked if the city received the entire amount, Kaiser replied “yes” to applause from the council.

“So, congratulations to everyone,” she said.

“Congratulations to you and all of us,” said Mayor Sean Wright. “Thank you, staff for the hard work.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for our city that was made possible by the hard work and dedication of our Parks and Recreation Department,” said Kaiser. “We are always working to develop key partnerships that will work with us to enhance the parks and recreation experience for our residents. On behalf of the city of Antioch, I’d like to thank the State of California for their investment in our community.”

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Compete in or watch East County Muscle’s The Novice V in Rivertown Saturday, Feb. 1

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

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