East Bay Parks Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol returns

East Bay Parks Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol returns
Photo by Jaime Dantas on Unsplash.com

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY — East Bay Regional Park District’s Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol, which has been on hold for a year because of COVID-19 concerns, is back on the trails as of April 1.

The patrol is administered by the park district’s public safety department. Full disclosure: I’m a member.

There are five patrol groups: a mounted patrol, a bicycle patrol, a hiking patrol, a companion dog patrol, and a marine safety unit. Members may also join the park district’s Search and Rescue (SAR) unit. The companion dog patrol consists of hiking patrol members accompanied by their personal pets. The sense is that park visitors with dogs will respond more positively to patrollers who also have dogs, during interactions about dog rules in the parks.

Information and assistance

Although the patrol is part of the police department, patrollers are not sworn police officers. Our role is to offer information and assistance, report on trail status, and advise district staff of hazardous conditions or anything else requiring action. We also sometimes help at special events and staff information tables at park trailheads. Via two-way radio or cell phone, we can summon help if there’s an emergency.

In a diplomatic way, we advise park visitors of park rules and trail courtesy. The mantra is “observe, report, educate.” Patrollers inform; they do not enforce.

You can recognize us by our tan colored polo shirts and green ball caps, both with the park district insignia on the front. Following COVID-19 protocols, we will be wearing masks at all times and maintaining six feet of social distance.

I think of patrollers as mobile information sources. We can provide directions, hand out park maps, and generally help to make everyone’s park visit a pleasant experience. I like to think that we sometimes resolve problems before they become emergencies, such as preventing people from becoming lost. Our website is parkpatrol.org.

So if you see us on the trails, say hello. We’re friendly and always glad to share information.

Wellness and Fitness

The park district and Regional Parks Foundation are sponsoring a series of one-hour, online sessions on the theme of Multicultural Wellness and Fitness. All are accessible on Zoom via the park district’s website, www.ebparks.org.

There’s a Virtual Fitness program from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, and another from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, both led by David Wei. And there’s a wellness and fitness series under way from now through May 12. Find the full schedule here.

Digital Learning

And there’s more. Under the heading of “Digital Learning,” the park district website offers a wide variety of virtual experiences in natural history. There are virtual tours of the visitor centers, which the district plans to reopen as soon as health concerns make it safe to do so. There are also naturalist-produced videos on a variety of topics, geared for all ages. You can check out the videos, then take your kids out for a self-guided nature walk.

We’ll all look forward to the time when the district can resume more normal in-person nature programs and special events. Meanwhile, the parks and trails are open for hiking and riding. Please remember to maintain social distancing and bring masks to wear on narrow trails and other locations where six feet of separation is difficult.

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