East Bay Parks to get $1.5M for fire protection, $3M for visitor center from Federal Omnibus Bill

East Bay Parks to get $1.5M for fire protection, $3M for visitor center from Federal Omnibus Bill
Artist rendering of the future visitor center at Thurgood Marshall park. $3 million in funding for the center comes from the federal Omnibus Bill. (Rendering courtesy EBRPD)

SAN FRANCISCO EAST BAY AREA, CA (Feb. 20, 2023) — Key funding for two East Bay Regional Park District programs is included in a bill signed recently by President Joe Biden wildfire protection in the East Bay hills and the visitor center at Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50.

The federal Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill provides $1.5 million for wildfire protection and $3 million for the visitor center.

Wildfire safety is one of the Park District’s top priorities. Year-round efforts include monitoring fire dangers and weather, staffing professionally trained full-time and on-call firefighters, maintaining specialized wildland firefighting equipment, and removing flammable vegetation to reduce wildfire risks.

The funds secured for Thurgood Marshall Regional Park will be used to design a visitor center there offering programs and displays about the park’s natural and cultural history.

The future visitor center, planned with the National Park Service, will highlight the history of the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and the Diablo Valley, displaying the area’s agricultural history, natural history, and stories of the Chupcan people. The area including Thurgood Marshall Regional Park is the ancestral homeland of the Chupcans.

“The Park District Board and staff are grateful to U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier for their support. The funds they secured are extremely important for the District’s ongoing efforts to reduce wildfire risks caused by climate change and years of severe drought, and to open up public access to our newest Regional Park,” said Park District Board President Dennis Waespi.

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. (Pete Cruz photo)

“Volcanoes, Labyrinths, Quarries and Newts” is the theme of a walk from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the Oakland hills, led by naturalist Michael Charnofsky.

This is a 2½-mile moderate hike through the park to explore its ancient geology, historic quarries, present-day labyrinths and wildlife.

It’s free and registration is not necessary. Meet Michael at the park’s staging area on Skyline Boulevard, about a quarter-mile south of the intersection with Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Oakland. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Black Diamond Mines

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch was once the location of Contra Cost County’s most populous communities. You can learn more about the now-vanished mining towns during a hike from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 with naturalist Katie Garchar. A mine tour is not included.

The hike is free and registration is not necessary. Minimum age is seven and parent participation is required. Wear sturdy shoes; bring water and a snack.

Meet Katie in the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, about 3½ miles south of Highway 4 and a mile past the park’s entrance kiosk. For information, call 510-544-2750.

Track Trek

Even if you don’t see wildlife during a visit to a regional park, you can often see tracks the animals left behind.

Learn more during a “Track Trek” from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton with naturalist Gisselle Hernandez.

The program is for ages five and older. It’s free and registration is not required. Meet Gisselle at the Lakeside picnic area. Bring shoes that can get muddy.

Shadow Cliffs is at 2500 Stanley Boulevard east of downtown Pleasanton. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3249.

Wednesday Walks

This naturalist-led series explores various regional parks and trails. The Wednesday Walkers will hike north on the Bay Trail from Hayward Regional Shoreline to the San Leandro Marina on a flat five-to six-mile round-trip from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 1, with the guidance of naturalist Susan Ramos.

The program is for ages eight and older. You do not need to register. Wear sturdy shoes; bring water and a snack.

Meet Susan at the park entrance at the bay end of Grant Avenue in Hayward. For information, call 510-544-3182.

There are many other programs and activities available in the East Bay Regional Parks. For full information, visit www.ebparks.org.