Park It by Ned MacKay: Meet the people who take care of the parks

From office staff to park rangers, from police and firefighters to nature educators, almost 800 dedicated employees – even more in the summer — keep the East Bay Regional Parks open and safe for the public to enjoy.

You can meet some of them and find out more about what they do during “Rangers and Rigs,” a free special program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 15 at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton.

Kids can climb into the rigs and try their hand at ranger jobs. District staff will be on hand to help everyone explore, and answer questions about working for the parks.

Shadow Cliffs is on Stanley Boulevard east of downtown Pleasanton. The park charges a parking fee of $6 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3249.

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Wednesday Walks is an informal, naturalist-led hiking group that explores a different regional park each time. All levels of experience are welcome.

Five Canyons, a regional park trail through shady ravines, grassy ridge tops and residential neighborhoods, is the destination for the Wednesday Walks hiking group on April 18.

Naturalist Susan Ramos is the guide for the moderate four-mile trek. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Deer Canyon Trailhead. To get there from 1-580 eastbound, take the Grove Way exit (exit 37) and turn left. Turn right onto E. Castro Valley Boulevard, then turn right onto Five Canyons Parkway. Stay on Five Canyons Parkway for one mile, then turn right onto Recreation Center Road. Street parking is marked at the private recreation center by the Deer Canyon Trailhead.

One advisory: there are no restrooms available along the way. For information, call 510-544-3187.

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Garin Regional Park in Hayward is the venue of a naturalist-led bird watching walk from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17. It’s for ages 12 and older. All levels of experience are welcome. Bring water, sunscreen, and binoculars or scopes.

Garin Regional Park is at the end of Garin Avenue off Mission Boulevard. Meet at the Red Barn Visitor Center. For information, call 510-544-3220.

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Native plant restoration is the goal of a volunteer project scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 at Leona Canyon in Oakland, under the supervision of naturalist Michael Charnofsky.

Rain or shine, volunteers will pull out non-native invasive grasses and shrubs around the stations of the park’s self-guided trail, “Local Indian Uses of Plants.” The project is for ages 10 and older. Lunch, tools and gloves will be provided. Students can earn community service hours. Meet at Merritt College Parking Lot E.

Registration is required. For information and registration, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program number 20342.

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If you’ve always wanted your face painted to resemble a local animal, your chance comes during a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley.

Interpretive student aide Laura Scotty will paint your face to resemble the animal of your choice, while describing its habits and habitat.

The water cycle and its importance is the topic of a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 15 at Tilden Nature Area with interpretive student aide Brianna Contaxis-Tucker.

Both programs are free. They meet at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, at the north end of Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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Spiders are the stars of a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 15 at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

The group will look for spiders in the park, and join in some arachnid-themed activities.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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For more information on all regional park programs and facilities, check out the web site,

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