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Veronice Gomez State Farm
Several East Bay parks preparing to reopen

Several East Bay parks preparing to reopen

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As measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic continue, the East Bay Regional Park District is gradually easing some of the restrictions imposed in the interest of public and staff safety.

Several parks or park entrances are scheduled to reopen on Saturday, May 9: Sunol Regional Wilderness, the main parking lot at Coyote Hills in Fremont, the Doolittle Drive entrance to Martin Luther King Jr.

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Regional Shoreline in Oakland and the Redwood Road entrance to Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. The Bear Creek Road entrance to Briones Regional Park near Orinda will open May 11.

At the request of the city of Fremont, the Stanford Avenue staging area at Mission Peak Regional Preserve will remain closed until June 1.

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Other park restrictions may be lifted, too. For up-to-date information, visit the park district website at ebparks.org and click on “COVID-19 Park and Trail Updates” at the top of the home page.

Keep it clean

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The park district also was scheduled to resume trash collections and reopen most restrooms. However, it’s best to expect to pack out your trash and “go before you go,” just in case. Drinking fountains are closed, so bring your own water in a non-disposable container. And don’t forget hand sanitizer.

Other anti-coronavirus measures are still in force, so remember to keep your excursions close to home, go in small groups of immediate family, maintain at least six feet of social distance from other groups, bring masks to wear when social distancing isn’t possible and keep your dogs on leash at all times.

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As Gov. Gavin Newsom has said many times, we’re not out of the woods yet. So when you’re in the woods, act accordingly.

Timely lesson about rattlesnakes

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This is a good time for my annual rattlesnake advisory, since the snakes are out and about this time of year.

The best way to avoid snakes is to stay on official trails, although I saw a rattler recently slinking across the Old Briones Road Trail near Martinez.

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When walking or cycling, keep an eye on the path ahead. Definitely do not take shortcuts through tall grass and brush. If you stop to rest, avoid the rock piles, logs and tall grass that are snake habitat.

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If you see a snake on a trail or fire road, give it lots of space. And for heaven’s sake, don’t tease it or pick it up.

Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will avoid us if possible. We’re much larger than the small rodents that are their preferred diet.

Keep your pet under control at all times. Curious by nature, dogs may run right up to a snake and get bitten. If it’s a rattlesnake, the result can be an expensive vet bill.

If you see a rattlesnake in a parking lot or picnic area, contact a park ranger and the ranger will relocate it.

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Gopher snakes look a lot like rattlesnakes and will even mimic rattlers by thrashing their tails to create a rattle-like sound. Their bite is painful, but they do not inject venom. There are posters at park district trailheads that illustrate the difference between the two snakes.

First Aid

In the unlikely event of a rattlesnake bite, here are first aid recommendations:

  • Remain calm and move beyond the snake’s striking distance.
  • Remove jewelry and tight clothing before the bitten area starts to swell.
  • Position yourself, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of your heart.
  • Clean the wound, but don’t flush it with water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing.
  • Minimize movement. If possible, carry a victim who must be transported or have him or her walk slowly.
  • Get to a hospital as soon as possible for anti-venom treatment.

The emergency phone number within the regional parks is 510-881-1121. Using 911 works too, but it is routed through the California Highway Patrol, so there can be a delay.

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Snakebites are extremely rare and treatment is effective. So with a bit of caution, common sense and awareness of your surroundings, you can enjoy your outdoor experience free from worry.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.

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