East Bay Regional Parks resuming many pre-COVID operations

East Bay Regional Parks resuming many pre-COVID operations

East Bay Regional Parks resuming many pre-COVID operations
Castle Rock pool in Walnut Creek (Photo courtesy EBRPD)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (June 18, 2021) — In concert with California’s statewide move on June 15 to pre-COVID-19 day-to-day life, the East Bay Regional Park District has also  started opening up to more normal operations.

Because the district offers such a variety of facilities and programs, the situation is a bit complicated. Your should consult the park district website, www.ebparks.org, for up-to-date information in advance of your visit. And while the parks department won’t always require masks, keep one handy in case you need it.

With that in mind, here are some highlights of the new and welcome environment:

Anthony Chabot campground near Castro Valley returned to full capacity on April 29. Del Valle campground south of Livermore was to reopen at full capacity on June 18, now that the water system renovation is complete. Del Valle Convenience Cabins (“glamping”) will reopen on July 16.

Reserveable group campsites district-wide resumed full capacity on June 15. Del Valle group campsites will reopen at full capacity on July 2.

Visitor centers

Most visitor centers have been open at 50 percent capacity since May 1. They will be open with no capacity limits starting June 26. Because they are indoor facilities, visitors will be required to wear face covering to enter.

The Botanic Garden at Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley, Tilden’s Little Farm, and Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont will resume normal operations and capacities on June 26, with no reservations required.

District reservable facilities such as Tilden’s Brazil Room will resume normal operations at full capacity on July 1.

The park district’s day camp programs will resume on July 19. Public nature interpretive and outdoor recreation programs restarted on May 1. Reservable group picnic areas will be open to maximum capacity starting June 18.

The district’s swimming facilities have been operating at 25 percent capacity, with reservations required for Contra Loma in Antioch, Roberts Pool in Oakland, Castle Rock pool in Walnut Creek, Cull Canyon in Castro Valley and Don Castro in Hayward. The swim beaches at Lake Del Valle were limited by the number of day use vehicles entering.

Reservations were still to be required through Friday, June 18. On Saturday, June 19, first-come first-served entries resumed, with no attendance restrictions.

Pilot program for swim areas

The district staff is trying out a pilot program for the swim areas at Contra Loma, Cull Canyon, Roberts and Don Castro. It will be in place for all weekends and holidays through October 31.

Fifty percent of total swim entries will be reservable, based on the maximum capacity for each area. The remaining 50 percent will be first-come, first-served. This enables people to plan their park visit, while also accommodating those who have technology or other issues that limit their ability to use the reservation system.

All entries on weekdays will remain first-come, first-served onsite.

By the way, you can call the park district’s phone number for information and reservations at 888-327-2757, option 2.

Unfortunately, due to drought-related water levels and quality, some swim beaches remain closed. This includes Lake Anza in Tilden, Lake Temescal in Oakland, Quarry Lakes in Fremont, and Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton. You can swim in the Bay at Crown Beach in Alameda and Keller Cove in Richmond, but these have no lifeguard service in operation.

Face masks

Back to the topic of masks: you’ll likely see park district employees and volunteers still wearing them, subject to Cal/OSHA regulations. District staff also recommends that masks requirements stay in place at any district indoor facility open to the public. California Department of Public Health includes this in their guidelines.

And you may encounter signs with the message “Face Coverings Recommended Due to Crowded Conditions” at locations that have high use, especially by children under 12 who are not vaccinated. Tilden’s Little Farm and Ardenwood are examples.

Of course the park district wants to resume normal pre-COVID operations as soon as circumstances and public health concerns permit. And it looks like we’re well on the way there. In the meantime, park officials appreciate everyone’s cooperation with the evolving circumstances.

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