Conserving Watershed Lands: A Shared History

Established in 1934, the Park District has preserved over 125,000 acres of parklands and 55 miles of shoreline – driven by the vision manifested in the 1930 report, Proposed Park Reservations for East Bay Cities by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Ansel Hall of the National Park Service. But how did the Park District go from a vision to a reality? The answer connects us to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). 

EBMUD was formed in 1923 by a public vote. In 1929, with funds from voter-approved bonds, EBMUD completed construction of the Pardee Dam in the Sierra and the Mokelumne Aqueduct to pipe water to the East Bay. EBMUD also acquired the private East Bay Water Company and, soon after, identified 10,000 acres of watershed lands in the Oakland/Berkeley Hills as surplus property. 

Park advocates saw the opportunity for a "Grand Park" stretching 22 miles from Lake Chabot to Wildcat Canyon. In 1934, during the depth of the Great Depression, voters approved formation of the Park District. In 1936, the District purchased 2,162 acres from EBMUD to create the first Regional Parks: Upper Wildcat Canyon (Tilden), Temescal, and Roundtop (Sibley). 

Today, the Park District manages 73 regional parks, including Lake Chabot Regional Park, which is owned by EBMUD but operated by the District. The District and EBMUD are essential partners, including working together to prevent and mitigate wildfires in the East Bay hills.

With our shared history conserving watershed lands, the Park District congratulates EBMUD on its 100-year anniversary!

Join the Park District at Temescal Regional Park in Oakland on May 21, 2023 from 11am – 4pm at the EBMUD 100th Birthday Party & Community Fair.