By NED MacKAY
Special to the Tribune
Spring is a great time for enjoying the trails in the East Bay Regional Parks. The hills are green, wildlife abounds, and all kinds of wildflowers are starting to appear.
Unfortunately, another appearance is trash left behind by park visitors. While walking the trails myself, I’ve noticed especially lots of discarded plastic water bottles and citrus fruit peels.
The plastic bottles weigh less empty than they do full. Moreover, you can squash and roll them so they take up little room, then deposit them in the green recycle bins that are found at many trailheads.
People sometimes believe that orange peels will biodegrade. That’s true, but it takes a really long time. Meanwhile, the peels present an unsightly mess. Animals don’t like their taste any more than we do. And citrus detritus is not a natural part of the environment.
So please pack out any litter that you generate while in the regional parks and encourage others to do the same. The plastic bags in which newspapers are delivered during the rainy season make handy, waterproof receptacles.
Spring brings a bouquet of naturalist-led activities. There’s lots to choose from in the coming week. Here are some possibilities:
Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley has a “Delta Discoveries” program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Drop in any time for hands-on arts and crafts activities with a natural history theme.
Or you can help the staff test the Delta water from 9-10 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Results go into a regional database used by scientists and water managers.
“Dawn Chorus Yoga” will be offered at Big Break from 7-8 a.m. on Saturday, March 4 and again on April 1. Bring a yoga mat if you have one, and join in movement, breathing and meditation.
Big Break is located on Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.
Many miners and their families who lived and worked in what is now Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve are buried at Rose Hill Cemetery.
Learn about their lives during a naturalist-led walk to the cemetery from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. Meet in the parking lot at the upper end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch.
Rain cancels the program. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.
Naturalist “Trail Gail” Broesder will lead one of her “Footloose Friday” hikes from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, March 3, at Briones Reservoir. This is a long one, 13 miles through woods and fields.
It will take place rain or shine, though heavy rain or mud may shorten it. Meet at the Briones Overlook staging area, which is on Bear Creek Road several miles east of the intersection with San Pablo Dam Road in Orinda.
Gail also plans a “canine capers” dog walk from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5 at Briones Regional Park. You don’t need a dog to participate, but if you have a furry friend, bring water and treats for him or her. The group will cover six hilly miles, starting at the Alhambra Creek staging area off Reliez Valley Road south of Martinez.
For information and directions on either of Gail’s hikes, call (510) 544-2233.
Little kids can learn how to care for little animals during a program from 10-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Little Farm in Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley. And pigs will be the focus of a “talk with the animals” program from 11-11:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 5 at the Little Farm. The program features a different animal each Sunday.
The Little Farm is at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive, accessible via Canon Drive from Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley. For information, call (510) 544-2233.
Stories, songs and habitat exploration are all part of a program from 10-11 a.m. Saturday, March 4, at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, led by naturalist Morgan Dill. Crab Cove is at the end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call (510) 544-3187.
Snakes are the stars of a program from 10 a.m. to noon and repeating from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5, at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, led by naturalist Dino Labiste. Learn all about snakes and make a snake spiral craft to take home.
Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. For information, call (510) 544-3220.
Find out more about the regional parks and their nature programs at the district website, www.ebparks.org.