Park District to Receive Federal Funds for Wildfire Protection and New Visitor Center

February 9, 2023

The Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, signed recently by President Biden, includes critical funding for the East Bay Regional Park District. The bill provides $1.5 million to enhance wildfire protection in the East Bay hills secured by U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (CA), and $3 million in funding for the visitor center at Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50, secured by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11). 

“The Park District Board and staff are grateful to Senator Padilla and Congressman DeSaulnier for their support. The funds they secured are extremely important for the District’s ongoing efforts to reduce wildfire risks caused by climate change and years of severe drought, and to open up public access to our newest Regional Park,” said Park District Board President Dennis Waespi. 

“We thank Senator Padilla for his tremendous leadership in addressing and prioritizing the state’s wildfire challenges by securing wildfire protection funds for the Park District,” said General Manager Sabrina Landreth. “The funding secured by Congressman DeSaulnier will help jumpstart the visitor center planning at Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50, which is the first step toward creating a place where visitors can learn about the park, its history, and recreational opportunities.” 

The federal support for the Park District will enhance current efforts as wildfire safety is one of the Park District’s top priorities. Year-round efforts include monitoring fire dangers and weather, maintaining professionally trained full-time and on-call firefighters, maintaining specialized wildland firefighting equipment, and removing flammable vegetation to reduce wildfire risks. 

The funds secured for Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50 will be used to design and plan a visitor center at the new park to connect the public with the natural and human history of the park, as well as providing new outdoor recreational opportunities. The future visitor center planned with the National Park Service will highlight the history of the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and the Diablo Valley, along with its agricultural history, natural history and restoration, and the stories of the Chupcan people. Thurgood Marshall Regional Park is the ancestral homeland of the Chupcan people.