Back to normal — East Bay Parks board ends pandemic emergency status

Back to normal — East Bay Parks board ends pandemic emergency status

Back to normal — East Bay Parks board ends pandemic emergency status
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve photo by Pete Cruz

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (July 9, 2021) — Park district counsel Carol Victor described it as “a milestone moment.”

At their July 6 meeting, East Bay Regional Park District’s board of directors voted unanimously to end the district’s emergency status that they invoked at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes after a June 15 announcement by the state of California that industries statewide can resume usual operations, with appropriate risk reduction measures including masking and vaccinations.

The park district activated its own Emergency Operations Center 15 months ago with representatives from all district departments. Its final meeting took place on June 16.

Although the district’s COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, the district has resumed more normal operations. This includes reopening of visitor centers and swim facilities, in-person recreation and nature interpretative programs, facility rentals, and the return of remotely-working staff back to in-person work.

District staff has determined that although the pandemic is not over, the situation is within the normal capacity of the park district to address. The decision follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health.

Director Ellen Corbett called the district’s response to the pandemic “a shining example of how to deal with COVID in a very effective way.” While encouraging precautions such as masking and social distancing, the district has kept almost all its parks and trails open during the pandemic, offering safe places for outdoor recreation.

As in-person programs and special events resume, the schedule will be announced at the park district website, You can view the calendar of events by clicking on “Activities” at the top of the home page, then on “Naturalist Information/Programs.”

2021 Trails Challenge

And it’s not too late to join in the 2021 Trails Challenge, the self-guided way to explore new regional parks.

Trails in the challenge range the spectrum from easy and flat to strenuous and steep. Hike any five of the trails, or 26.2 miles of trails within the park district, turn in your trail log by Dec. 1, and receive a commemorative pin (while supplies last).

For more information, visit

Heat wave

While you are out there, remember to be prepared for the hot weather. When you’re on the trails, be sure to carry (and drink) plenty of water. Once you are away from the trailheads and picnic areas, there isn’t any potable water available. And don’t forget water for your dog, if you have Fido with you.

Trail travel is best in the morning, before the heat of the day. And whether you go early or later, plot a route through more shady areas. Some good examples include the Bay View Trail at Pt. Pinole in Richmond, Wildcat Gorge Trail at Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley, the Stream Trail at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve in the Oakland hills, and Big Bear Loop at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley. Trail maps of these and other regional parks can be downloaded from the district website.

Cover up from the sun, too. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, light-colored clothing, and lots of sunscreen.

If you go alone, be sure to tell someone responsible where you are going and when you expect to return. Check in with them when you get back.

With a little common sense and some advance planning, we can all enjoy safe and enjoyable recreation experiences as the regional parks and other public open spaces move toward more normal pre-pandemic operations.

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