East Bay Parks to reopen some facilities closed by COVID-19

East Bay Parks to reopen some facilities closed by COVID-19
The Ardenwood park includes a farm, a large forest and a Queen Anne-style mansion now called the Patterson House.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA — East Bay Regional Park District is beginning to reopen some of its facilities as progress continues on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest move is reopening of Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, the Little Farm at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, and the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, also at Tilden.

All three are reopening with limited capacity on a reservation-only basis. To make reservations, visit the district website at www.ebparks.org. Click on  “About Us” at the top of the home page, then click on “News.” Click on the article, “Little Farm, Ardenwood, and Botanic Garden Reopening Feb. 18,” which has links to make reservations for each of the facilities.

Tilden’s Environmental Education Center next door to the Little Farm remains closed for now, as do all the district’s other visitor centers.

Limited openings

Earlier the district reopened the family campgrounds at Anthony Chabot Regional Park near Castro Valley and Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore, both at 50 percent capacity. There’s also limited backpack camping available at Sunol and Ohlone Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County.

For all of these, you need to make advance reservations at the park district website. Click on “Register and Reserve” at the top of the home page, then click on “Camping.” Or you can call call  888-327-2757.

Meanwhile, all the pandemic related precautions are still in place. Park visitors should maintain six feet of social distancing, and carry masks to wear when keeping distance isn’t possible on narrow trails or at trail gates. Some toilets are open, but group picnic areas are generally closed. Bring your own drinking water – most fountains have been shut off.

Dogs rule

In other news, the district has launched a “Pup Pro” campaign, designed to encourage park visitors to cooperate with dog-related rules in the parklands. You’ll see signs at park entrances.

Among other things, people are asked to pick up their dog’s waste and deposit it in trashcans, and place their dogs on leash when cattle are near.

Generally the park district’s dog rules are not onerous. Dogs can be off-leash in the backcountry, except where otherwise posted, as long as they are under their owners’ control. This means the dog will come when called. Dogs are supposed to be placed on leash when livestock are near.

Especially if your dog starts harassing wildlife and grazing cattle, or has uninvited interactions with other park visitors, Fido has to be put on leash.

New park in the works

The park district is planning and developing a new regional park at the former Roddy Ranch golf course in Antioch.

A public meeting is planned from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 11, at which you can learn about planning for habitat restoration, recreation opportunities and public access. There will also be discussion of the property’s present condition, the project timeline, and other ways in which the public can become involved.

The meeting will be held online via Zoom. To register, contact Eddie Willis, the project planner, at ewillis@ebparks.org. For more information and to view a post-meeting recording, visit the project website, ebparks.org/about/planning/roddyranch/.

Rancher and rodeo legend Jack Roddy had owned the property as part of his extensive ranch near Brentwood since the mid-1970s. He opened the 230-acre golf course in 2001 and operated it for the next 15 years. In partnership with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, the park district purchased Roddy’s property, including the golf course, in various transactions from 2014 to 2018.

The former golf course area is expected to be the first part of the future Deer Valley Regional Park to open to the public.

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