East Bay Park District Celebrates 85th Anniversary

One of the many benefits of working or living at Hacienda is easy access to the park and recreational opportunities provided by the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD). The EBRPD's 73 regional parks are spread across 122,000 square miles of open space, making it the largest park district in the nation. This year the park district celebrates its 85th anniversary with a variety of special events, which will give the Hacienda community even more opportunities to enjoy the East Bay's natural beauty.

Recent and planned improvements to the park district include a new Castleridge Trailhead in Pleasanton, a new Nature Pavilion at the Pleasanton Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, and five new convenience camping cabins at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore.

Local Improvements

The new Castleridge Trailhead offers a new public access point to the northern side of Pleasanton Ridge and its ridgeline trails. The trailhead's amenities include street parking for up to 50 vehicles, a drinking water fountain, accessible restroom, and gated access serving two neighboring communities, according to Dave Mason, EBRPD's Public Information Supervisor for Public Affairs.

"Shadow Cliffs is hugely popular for swimming, picnicking, and fishing," says Mason, who points out that many visitors may be unaware of the area's 116-acre nature area, which includes a cottonwood and willow-lined creek. By the end of the year, the entrance to the nature area, which is located to the west of the lake, will include a 1,000-square-foot Nature Pavilion. Educational exhibits will highlight the natural and cultural history of the park, as well as available recreational opportunities.

The popular Del Valle Regional Park offers camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, nature learning, nature watching, and more. Among its amenities are five new cabins that make it easier for many to enjoy nature while maintaining much of the traditional camping experience, according to Mason. While the park district's new convenience camping options are different from resort-style camping, they do provide more shelter than a tent and allow people to camp year-round.

Part of a pilot program, each new cabin features bunk beds, windows with blinds, a ceiling fan, an electric heater, and one electrical outlet. The camping sites come with a picnic table and a fire pit with grill. Campers may bring additional tents for traditional camping. Sites are limited to eight individuals per site, and five individuals per cabin.

The new cabins, which do not allow indoor cooking, may be reserved only by calling the Park District at 1-888-327-2757, option 2. The cost is $100 per night, plus a $250 security deposit and an $8 transaction fee. Reservations are available at least five days in advance but no more than 12 weeks in advance.

Proud History

Another recent park district development was the purchase of the 160-acre Grove Property, which is adjacent to Doolan Canyon Regional Preserve near Pleasanton and Livermore. This purchase was funded by and made possible through voter-approved Measure WW funds and increases the total preserve size to 640 acres.

"Considered a hidden treasure, the 160-acre Grove Property will expand the boundary of the existing park by one-fourth and will increase opportunities for public access," says Mason.

Much of the Grove property is sloping, rolling hill terrain used primarily for cattle grazing, while the trees in the area provide nesting habitat for raptors. The property also provides sweeping views of the hills and valleys adjacent to the property. The expansion preserves the headwaters of Cottonwood Creek and protects sensitive species habitat by maintaining open space, according to the park district.

This recent acquisition is another milestone in the proud history of the park district, which was created in response to a successful ballot measure in 1934. Despite the economic upheaval of that time, voters and residents overwhelmingly supported the creation of the park district and have continued to support it through the years.

The vastness of the park district and all it offers may be difficult to imagine for people who have not experienced it firsthand. The park district's holdings include regional parks, recreation areas, wilderness areas, shorelines, preserves, and land bank areas. The 31 regional inter-park trails add up to 1,250 miles of trails within the parklands.

Thanks to the park district, the Hacienda community can choose to enjoy 11 freshwater swimming areas, boating and/or stocked fishing lakes and lagoons, as well as a disabled-accessible swimming pool. Additional amenities include 40 fishing docks, three bay fishing piers, two golf courses, 235 family campsites, 42 youth camping areas, as well as wedding, meeting, and banquet facilities.

Over the years the park district has also developed a robust list of services and educational programs, often in concert with the nonprofit Regional Parks Foundation. The foundation was founded in 1969 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Trails Challenge is one example of such programs.

Now 26 years old, the Trails Challenge is a free, self-guided hiking program by a collaboration among the park district, the foundation, and Kaiser Permanente. A guidebook includes detailed trail descriptions for hikes in 20 regional parks or trails. Hikes range from easy to challenging, according to the park district.

A free printed guidebook is available while supplies last; a free mobile application that includes the trails is also available. Trails open to hikers, bicyclists, dogs, and equestrians are part of the Trails Challenge. Many of the trails are wheelchair accessible, according to the park district. Challenge participants must log five hikes (or 26.2 miles) before December 1 to earn a commemorative pin; more than 10,000 people participate each year.

"The success of the East Bay Regional Parks District is rooted in the history of our own country, and in the belief that during times of economic and social adversity, investments in people and environmental preservation can be instrumental in promoting economic recovery while benefiting current and future generations," Congresswoman Barbara Lee noted on the occasion of the park district's 75th anniversary.

The EBRPD will begin celebrating its 85th anniversary officially in June with a series of monthly events, including free concerts at different parks. Additional details about anniversary-related events will be listed on the organization's website later in the year. For more information about the East Bay Regional Park District, please visit hwww.ebparks.org.

For more information about the Regional Parks Foundation, please visit www.regionalparksfoundation.org.

For more information about Hacienda parks and recreational opportunities, please visit www.hacienda.org/po-amenities/amenities.

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