Interpretive Pavilion Opened at Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton

In December, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) celebrated the opening of a 1,000-square-foot outdoor interpretive pavilion at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton. The new pavilion was designed as an outdoor visitor center that connects visitors to a nature area comprising 116 acres of open space that includes a tree-lined creek and a wide array of wildlife. Shadow Cliffs is best known for its lake and water-based recreational activities, including swimming, fishing, and lakeside picnicking, according to EBRPD officials.

“Shadow Cliffs’ nature area is a hidden gem in the Tri-Valley,” according to EBRPD Board Director Ayn Wieskamp. “The new interpretive pavilion will help inform and connect visitors to the little-known nature area and all of the recreational opportunities available there, including trails for hiking, biking, and nature watching.” Thousands of school children visit Shadow Cliffs annually to participate in naturalist-led programs. The nature pavilion will serve as a gathering spot for those programs and allow the EBRPD to serve even more children each year.

“The nature pavilion is an important new facility that helps advance the Park District’s mission of providing healthy recreational opportunities and environmental education,” according to Sabrina Landreth, General Manager of the EBRPD, which is a Hacienda tenant. “We are proud to provide yet another improvement and enhanced experience for the community.”

The new pavilion includes exhibits highlighting the natural and cultural history of the park, local wildlife, park maps, and information about recreational activities. The project was the brainchild of local philanthropists Nancy and Gary Harrington of Pleasanton, who moved to the city more than 40 years ago.

“When Gary and I retired, we began to discuss the hidden nature area in Shadow Cliffs,” says Nancy Harrington. “We loved that Pleasanton had this hidden gem so close to everyone. There were assorted ducks, turtles, and an occasional pelican in the lakes. We even saw an osprey in one of the trees. There is also a rookery of herons and, when there is enough water, the lake is stocked with fish.”

The Harringtons wondered how they could help more residents learn about the natural treasures that could be enjoyed within this quiet and lovely park. They came up with the idea of an outdoor educational pavilion in December 2014. “Shadow Cliffs is a small regional park, but overflowing with opportunities to experience and learn about nature,” says Gary Harrington. “As former educators, Nancy and I understand the value of hands-on learning and saw an outdoor pavilion as a way to encourage visitors to explore nature in the park and help create a place where school-age children could learn about nature, wildlife, and the environment.”

The couple approached EBRPD officials about their idea and offered a lead gift of $200,000 to make the pavilion a reality. The new structure was also made possible by additional state and nonprofit funding and individual donations, including support from California State Parks, funding from the Regional Parks Foundation, and a significant grant from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation. According to officials, the pavilion will be used as a gathering spot for weekend interpretive programs beginning this month, depending on the weather, and for school programs starting this fall.

Today, eight years after their initial brainstorm, “we love that the structure is built with very sustainable materials that are long lasting and easy to maintain,” says Nancy Harrington. “Our hope is that people visiting the park for swimming and picnicking take a look at the interpretive pavilion and walk up the hill to the nature area and discover lots of new things. We think they will love it like we do. We know that school children will benefit greatly from the information within the interpretive pavilion.”

For more information about the Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, please visit

For more information about the East Bay Regional Park District, please visit

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