Healthy Parks, Healthy People
Do you know that there are over 100,000 acres of natural parks and wilderness in the two counties of Alameda and Contra Costa in the East Bay?
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) manages 65 regional parks in these two counties. Among the regional parks are Tilden, Chabot and Del Valle. The regional parks include wilderness, shorelines, lakes, farms and recreation areas, making EBRPD the largest and most diverse park district in the nation.
“A mile from my house in this big urban city, I can be out in this deep forest and be close to nature and the quiet,” says Wendy Tokuda, news anchor for CBS5, describing Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.
Established in 1934, in the heart of the Great Depression, the Park District serves more than 2.4 million people across 40 cities. The regional parks include 1,150 miles of trails, 11 freshwater swimming areas, boating facilities and lakes for fishing. Other outdoor activities include picnicking, hiking, biking, golfing, horse riding and camping in the 235 family campsites.
“The topography of the parks are vivid and the options for outdoor recreation facilities are endless,” notes Pat O’Brien, General Manager of EBRPD. “For every mood you’ve got, we have a park.”
There are nine interpretive and education centers with naturalist programs for the public to learn about nature, geology, history and wildlife. For example, Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont exhibits agricultural practices from the 1870s and Black Diamond Mines in Antioch offers tours to learn about geology and mine workings. Also, set in beautiful natural surroundings are several historic indoor/outdoor facilities for events like weddings, parties and business meetings.
In October, the Park District was awarded a $10.2 million TIGER II grant by the Department of Transportation to complete gaps in its 175-mile paved Regional Trail network (which includes the Iron Horse Trail and the San Francisco Bay Trail). When completed, the trail system will offer a healthy transportation alternative for daily commuters. The Park District also recently joined 35 countries to participate in the Healthy Parks Healthy People movement founded by Parks Victoria, Australia. This movement promotes parks as an integral part of the environment, community and individual health.
For Oakland resident Miranda Wilson, a radio host, the parks provide a sanctuary to reconnect with nature and herself. “When you look up at the trees, standing there reaching up for the sun, you feel like your spirit is also looking up and dark days don’t seem to be so dark.”
Discover activities and nature programs in our Regional in Nature Activity Guide which comes out bimonthly – 6 times a year – on our website www.ebparks.org. For General Information, call 1-888-327-2757.