The East Bay Regional Park District announces the installation of permanent educational exhibits at the Big Break Visitor Center at the Delta in Oakley, California. The much-anticipated exhibits are the final touch for the newest of the Park District’s visitor centers; a temporary exhibit has been in place since the center opened in the fall of 2012.
The exhibits tell the story of the Delta watershed – the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, where California’s two greatest rivers meet -- the Sacramento and the San Joaquin. Here, where fresh and salt water converge, riverine and wetland habitats provide homes for a wide variety of birds, fish, mammals, and plants.
“The Delta is the heart of California,” said Supervising Naturalist Mike Moran. “It’s this incredible crossroads, a junction where water, wildlife, land and people meet and mix. We want visitors to think about why the Delta – its waters, its health and welfare – are so important to all Californians – to wildlife, cultures, communities and economies near and far. By understanding this vital, impacted, fascinating place, they can then answer the key question: What can I do to help the Delta?”
The new exhibits offer informative displays and exploration stations, combining high-tech and high-touch interaction opportunities. As visitors arrive, they may stop to identify geographic features and water projects on a large, interactive map of the state. A life-size diorama replicates a wetland scene, with resin sculptures of a great blue heron, mink, and turtle. Keen eyes will also spy a river otter and a crawdad.
Visitors may try their hand at wildlife sketching with the aid of a tracing table; peer through a microscope at plankton; or watch live fish in an aquarium. Or, pick up typical natural objects found in the Delta region -- such as a small animal skeleton, a crustacean, and wood chewed by a beaver -- and place them on a sensor; using RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, a video provides information about each object.
Those wishing to further explore the history of the Delta may page through documents at the map table, spend time in the reading corner, or watch videos about different aspects of the Delta.
The exhibits were designed by the Park District in collaboration with Oakland-based West Office Exhibition Design. Pacific Studio, based in Seattle, WA, completed much of the fabrication. Odyssey Productions of Portland, OR, produced the videos.
Park District Board Member Ted Radke said, “The Delta has a profound impact on California’s past, present and future. Here we can tell some of those stories, and engage visitors in thinking about the impacts of the Delta on their lives.”
The Big Break Visitor Center at the Delta is located at Big Break Regional Shoreline. In addition to the Visitor Center, the park offers trails, a fishing and observation pier, and the outdoor Delta Discovery Experience. The Delta Discovery Experience includes a large interactive map of the Delta, a small outdoor amphitheater with shade structure, turf, family picnic sites, and a small sand play area for children.
Outdoor panels were added along the paths near the Visitor Center in 2013. The panels introduce different elements of the park and the Delta Discovery Experience, and provide historical context and information on such topics as the Carquinez Strait and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.
Completed in 2012, the interpretive center building is certified “3 Green Globes” by the Green Building Initiative for green building design, engineering, construction and facility operations. The 5,500 square foot pre-fabricated building project was partially funded by a $2.5 million grant from the State of California's Proposition 84. The Park District’s Measure WW provided additional funding.
The Visitor Center offers public programs year-round, and field trips for schoolchildren by reservation. Public programs are listed in the Regional in Nature Activity Guide, available at the center and online at www.ebparks.org.
General Manager Robert Doyle said, “The Delta region has so many facets – the recreation, the natural history, the native people’s heritage; we’re excited to be able to invite the public to explore all the ways the Delta is a dynamic and rich part of life in our state. Human management of the Delta is ever more closely tied to the future of the state.”
If You Go
Big Break Visitor Center at the Delta
Big Break Regional Shoreline
69 Big Break Road
Oakley, CA 94561
Visitor Center Hours
Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm
Park Open Daily 8 am – 6 pm Sept.- Oct. (Hours change seasonally)
In the News
Big Break Visitor Center is now complete, East County Times, 09/30/14
Previous News about Big Break Regional Shoreline