On October 24, 2021, the Park District received the Global Citizen Award from the United Nations Association USA, East Bay and Silicon Valley Chapters at the virtual 76th UN Day celebration. Other awardees included Zoom Video Communications, Inc. and Abbott, Inc.
Board President Dee Rosario and General Manager Sabrina B. Landreth accepted the award on behalf of the Park District. See Award Presentation (full version)
The Global Citizen Award recognizes the Park District's contributions to the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the essential services we provided throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We kept the regional parks open and safe, providing physical and mental health relief. We provided Digital Learning and engagement, restored habitats and marshlands, and even opened two new parks – Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline in Oakland and Dumbarton Quarry Campground on the Bay in Fremont.
In 2015, the UN adopted the 17 SDGs as a roadmap to build a world that is more equitable, inclusive, safe, and sustainable for all peoples. Since the Park District’s founding in 1934, our steadfast advocacy for environmental-friendly legislation and our strategic partnerships with agencies, community organizations, and businesses have enhanced the quality of life for all in the East Bay as well as for the wildlife and natural environment.
Below are the significant ways the Park District and the Regional Parks Foundation contribute towards natural resource management, climate resilience, sustainability, economic growth, inclusion, and equity, serving 2.8 million residents in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Nelson Mandela says “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”
Acknowledging that, the Park District (EBRPD) and our Regional Parks Foundation (RPF) have collaborated with community-based organizations and school districts to do the following:
- Providing Paid Jobs for Youth: EBRPD is the largest employer of youth in East Bay. Annually, over 400 youth are hired to work in our parks and visitor centers. These paid positions are seasonal or part time; they include Interpretive Student Aide, Public Safety Student Aide, Recreation Leader, Lifeguard, Gate Attendant, Park Services Attendant, Field Intern, Administrative Intern. Every year, we hold job fairs in our two counties where more than 5,000 young people learn about EBRPD work opportunities. At the job fairs, students and youth review their resumes with our staff, participate in mock interviews, and learn how to become eligible for internship and employment. Other onsite learning modules include setting up a tent, co-leading a nature walk, giving first aid and CPR.
- Keeping Kids Healthy and IEngaged Outdoors: In 2012, EBRPD launched the Kids Healthy Outdoors Challenge (KHOC) to introduce students in underserved communities to nature study in our parklands through classroom-based activities. KHOC supports 3rd grade Common Core curriculum standards by inviting local educators to create the content. Every year, over 4,000 3rd grade students in 15 public schools throughout our two counties participate in the program. We provide free textbooks to the students as well as buses to bring the students and teachers to the parks. During the pandemic, we worked with teachers to pilot and lead a full slate of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)/Common Core that aligned virtual field trips to natural and cultural resources. This led to pre-recorded school videos that are shared on our website and through the learning platform “FlipGrid”, giving teachers the tools to connect their students with our parks.
- Giving Families Access to Parks: To ensure that families and children living in inner cities (Richmond, Oakland, Union City) have access to parks, the RPF provides free buses to bring community members to the Regional Parks for Multicultural Wellness Walks. (See #3 Good Health)
- Healthy Lunches: In partnership with the RPF, we provide healthy lunches to participants in our Park Rx SHINE program as well as the Multicultural Wellness Walks. Many of the participants are from underserved communities and have historically underutilized parks. (See #3 Good Health)
- Ardenwood Farm in Fremont is our working farm in the heart of a metropolitan area that includes a produce stand that sells farm fresh produce and provides education on the role farms play in providing vital resources, including demonstrating to urban youth where food comes from and the connection to the land and history of agriculture.
- Trails Challenge: Since 1993, ERPD and RPF, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, have provided a self-directed program called Trails Challenge in the Regional Parks. Over 10,000 people participate annually to explore new parks where they walk, hike, and/or bike the trails.
- Multicultural Wellness Walks: Over the years, starting in 2014, we’ve collaborated with 25 health clinics and 80 multicultural community organizations to prescribe nature to under-resourced patients/members to walk in our parks. Each Multicultural Wellness Walk convenes 100 to 150 people representing over a dozen ethnicities and faith traditions. About 4,000 participants have joined our Multicultural Wellness Walks over the past eight years. During the pandemic, we provided virtual Fitness programs twice a week, with health instructors teaching Tai Chi, Laughter Yoga, Zumba, and stretching exercises. Over 2,400 people have participated virtually.
- Park Rx and SHINE (Stay Healthy In Nature Everyday): In 2014, we launched the Park Rx SHINE program with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland (UBCHO) by integrating nature into the outpatient primary care clinic. With support of the hospital administration, we installed park murals throughout the clinic and renamed seven clinic rooms after the Regional Parks. On the first Saturday of every month, the Park District and the RPF provide a free half-day of connection at the park for pediatric patients, accompanied by guardians and medical staff. Our free services include transportation, healthy lunch, and a time of fun outdoor activities led by park staff. Currently, about 100 physicians at UBCHO prescribe time in nature for children with chronic illnesses. Over 3,000 children and family members have participated in the SHINE program since 2014. During the pandemic, the families continue to visit parks on the first Saturday where they can pick up boxed lunches, and a list of suggested outdoor activities.
- Covid-19 Public Health PSAs: In May 2020, we partnered with Health Officers from Alameda and Contra Costa counties to create Public Service Announcements in several languages to encourage the public to spend time in parks and the outdoors for mental and physical benefits, while wearing face masks and observing the 6-foot distance. These announcements on TV, radio, and social media greatly assured our 2.8 million residents that parks are safe places to visit during the pandemic. In fact, they are essential places to enhance our mental health and wellbeing and to build resilience.
- Digital Learning: During the pandemic all in-person programming and field trips were canceled. We quickly created an innovative and comprehensive interpretive and recreation program to connect with seasoned and new park users -- Parks to People: Digital Learning Program. We launched pre-recorded videos engaging students, teachers, parents, and the general public with online interactions and educational content. Videos showcased/discussed native plants and animals in our parklands, geology and history, children’s story times, special park locations to explore, and how to have a safe and enjoyable experience in the parks. We also hosted virtual live public programs that included in-depth evening talks on zoom, children’s programs, online trivia games, and short Facebook Live posts. Through this Digital Learning Program, we served 861,652 people in 2020 using 1,212 virtual programs and 200 videos shared across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This level of service represented a 36% increase over our total service levels for in-person programming in 2019.
- College Partnership: In 2019, we partnered with Merritt College to launch a new Conservation and Resource Management (CRM) Certificate of Achievement program. This program prepares students for careers in nature and the environment, such as park rangers, naturalists, interpretive aides, and environmental educators. Some courses are taught by EBRPD staff and utilize local Regional Parks for real-world, field-based experience. The goal of the program is to enhance diversity and reach students who may not have enough experience or education to apply for entry-level positions. With these core classes, students will be able to compete for jobs within EBRPD and in other park agencies and organizations. The program will provide employers with a resource of well-prepared and highly qualified candidates from the diverse communities in the Bay Area.
- Visitor Centers: Several of our ten visitor centers showcase interactive exhibits and technology that teach a range of subjects from Bay ecosystem, watershed protection, sustainable fishing, farming to historical and cultural resources. Visitors can pick up maps and interpretive brochures on plants and wildlife relevant to the parks adjacent to the visitor centers.
- Mobile Exhibits: Pre-pandemic, we frequently bring our parks and natural world to the communities. Our Mobile Visitor Center and Mobile Fish Exhibit travel to schools and organizations to provide hands-on learning opportunities on wildlife, habitat, and fishes. The students join the Fish Friends program. They learn how man-made toxins in the environment enter our food chain when fish eat plastic. Once aware, many children feel inspired to pick up trash in their schoolyard and reduce their use of plastic at home and in school. During the pandemic, the Mobile Visitor Center visited selected sites like Reinhardt Redwood to engage with the public.
- Environmental Education: Every year more than 10,000 underserved children and youth are given the opportunity via RPF scholarships to attend camp, hike, learn swimming and rock climbing, and participate in environmental education programs.
- Fishing Kits: In 2020 and 2021, the RPF donated a total of 300 fishing kits to nine organizations comprising youth, veterans, and ADA members. We led virtual training with step-by-step direction on knot-tying, setting up the pole, casting, selecting, and using bait, and removing fish from the hook. We provided maps of the fishing facilities in our parks as well as brochures on common types of fishes. EBRDP offers 11 lakes and reservoirs and over 25 miles of Bay/Delta shoreline and several piers for fishing.
- Junior Lifeguard Program: We conduct an Open Water Junior Lifeguard Program and provide free swimming lessons and free life jackets to children ages 9 to 15 where they learn water safety/rescue skills, first aid, and CPR in a fun and stimulating environment.
- Wildfire Prevention Awareness: Annually, we launch a region-wide campaign on wildfire safety, preparation, and prevention to educate park users and park neighbors. We help park users understand the different types of Fire Danger Warnings and know when they should refrain from building, lighting, or using fires in the parks while camping or picnicking. We encourage park neighbors to create and maintain a defensible space 30-100 feet around their home by removing all dead plants, grass, weeds, and overgrown brush as well as fire harden their home by installing fine wire mesh over roof.
- We collaborate with organizations to promote empowerment of girls and women in the outdoors and in environmental education. We have created programs such as camping, boating, fishing, wellness walks, coastal clean-up with Girls Inc, Brown Girl Surf, GirlTrek, Latina Center, Women, Infant and Children program.
- Internally, we established a Women in Leadership Conference program to inspire all female EBRPD employees to engage in dialogs to explore purposeful career development, develop interests and skills; and to collaborate across departments to advance the agency in innovative and impactful ways.
- Healthy Watersheds: Our parklands are home to healthy watersheds that provide clean water, soil, and air. Our Water Management Department protects public health, safety, and the environment by routinely monitoring and testing our diverse water resources such as recreational water, drinking water, maintenance projects, storm water, reclaimed water projects (Hayward Marsh), wastewater, lakes, and creeks. Our staff are trained to respond to water-related emergencies such as accidental sewage releases, oil spills, or other hazardous material incidents.
- Water Monitoring: Due to the drought and high temperatures, toxic blooms of blue-green algae are occurring more frequently in our lakes and shorelines. We do daily testing of the waters and post warnings and closures as needed. (See #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure)
- Wetlands Restoration: We have restored hundreds of acres of wetlands in our two counties to create self-sustaining ecosystems that filter polluted run-off; control flooding, prevent water logging and shoreline erosion; provide food and habitat for fish, birds, and wildlife as well as nutrients for native plant growth. The wetlands are also rich opportunities for recreation, environmental education, and research.
- Water Agency Partnerships: We partner with the EPA, EBMUD and county water districts (CCWD, ACWD) to support local, state, and federal water quality standards and to conduct research and studies.
- Covid-19 Sanitation: During the pandemic when our restrooms reopened, we provided hand sanitizer dispensers, water bottle fill stations, and rigorous sanitation of our restrooms.
- Renewable Energy: In 2017, EBRPD became energy net neutral. Several arrays of solar panels, installed at the Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area and Big Break Regional Shoreline, produce enough renewable energy to offset the total amount of energy we use annually. We also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by replacing company vehicles with more energy efficient models and converting all diesel-powered vehicles to using renewable biodiesel (RD-99) made from recycled oils, fats, and feedstock renderings. We also converted gas-powered tools to electric.
- Green Business Practices: EBRPD is making inroads into becoming a greener agency. All park projects follow sustainable design standards such as those in the California Green Building Standards Code 2019. We have earned Green certification from the Bay Area Green Business Standards for our equipment shops and visitor centers. We installed 142 containers in 34 active recreation parks (i.e., picnic and play areas), capturing aluminum cans, glass, and plastic bottles.
- Our Camp Arroyo in Livermore has won several awards for its environmentally innovative design which incorporates green features such as straw bale insulation, solar heating, and earth construction for the pool; metal roofs to catch runoff water for irrigation; use of recycled materials and composting through an organic garden.
- Additionally, to reduce excessive plastic water bottle waste in the parklands, the RPF have distributed many free reusable water containers and EBRPD have installed fountains with spigots for easy filling of water bottles.
- A 2017 Economic Analysis Impact Report determined that EBRPD provides a range of benefits to residents, businesses, and visitors that total about $500 million annually. This includes the values of recreation, healthcare, property values, and other ecosystem services. EBRPD generates nearly $200 million in regional economic activity every year which includes visitor spending and grant-funded capital investments, and the multiplier effects of both. Approximately, every $1 spent by the Park District yields $4 in return.
- The EBRPD Improvement Projects Economic and Social Impact Analysis by Beacon Economics identified that our large infrastructure projects have direct, indirect, and induced benefits for the community. Direct benefits are derived from immediate spending by EBRPD construction and future day-to-day operations of project sites. Indirect benefits stem from hiring contractors and supplemental services expended in support of completing a Park District project. Induced benefits come from the spending by households associated with externally contracted work on a Park District project. It is about how they spend their income in the community.
- The report also quantifies the number of jobs created by job years. A job year equals one year of employment for one individual. The study and analysis, conducted in 2020, provided estimates for 93 upcoming green infrastructure projects. The one-time impact for these projects would be $214.4 million in economic output; 1,199 job years of employment, $107.1 million in labor income; and $25.4 million in tax revenue. Annually, the completed projects support $23.7 million in economic output, 131 job years, $13.4 million in labor income and $3.6 million in tax revenue.
- In 2018, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance recognized EBRPD with a Legacy of Innovation Award for our regional collaboration with local stakeholders, businesses and agencies in advancing Green Transportation and public health as well as our contribution towards stimulating the economy and mitigating climate change impacts.
- EBRPD is among the first agencies in the nation to adopt the Healthy Parks, Healthy People (HPHP) global initiative. Together with Institute at Golden Gate, we launched a nine-county regional approach in 2012 to increase park access for communities suffering from chronic disease and historically underrepresented. We, subsequently, launched the Park Prescription program in partnership with physicians and nurses in more than 25 health clinics to prescribe time in nature for their patients.
- Our Integrated Pest Management program adheres to best practices in ecological health to protect parklands and ensure safe and healthy spaces for recreation. Our stewardship staff eliminates the use of chemicals whenever alternative methods are effective. In 2020, they conducted an innovative pilot program using nanobubbler technology to treat the rampant harmful algal blooms at Lake Temescal, Oakland. The nanobubbler helps maintain higher oxygen levels in the deeper parts of the lake which improve water quality. Previously, lower oxygen conditions (anoxia) had allowed the release of phosphorous from sediments built up since the damming of Temescal creek in the late 1800s. The pilot program showed promising results.
- Many of EBRPD parks have barrier-free parking, trails, picnic areas, restrooms, drinking fountains, and visitor centers. Roberts Regional Recreation Area has a barrier-free, wheelchair-accessible children's play area, one of the largest of its kind in the state. We have beach wheelchairs for safe travel across the sand; accessible pool lifts, accessible fishing piers and fishing docks at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area and Temescal Regional Recreation Area. We collaborate with Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP) to continually develop accessible facilities and programs to enhance the health, independence, positive experience, and social integration of people with physical disabilities in our parks.
- We hold several All Abilities Days for the children, youth, and adults with all kinds of other abilities to enjoy a day of fun activities and games, walks and explorations, storytelling, theater performances, and environment education in the parklands.
• Carbon Offset: A 2016 study reported that our parklands store nearly 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, which is comparable to the amount of carbon released by 59,300 vehicles during a year. Our restoration projects, which lead to new and enhanced wetland, grassland, scrubland, and forest habitats increase our potential for capturing and storing more carbon.
• Public Access to Shorelines: In 2020, we opened a brand new park, Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline and we completed major restoration to Albany Beach-SF Bay Trail and Bay Point Regional Shoreline. These three projects increased public access to shorelines during the pandemic year, mitigated sea level rise, and restored wildlife habitat. They successfully garnered a state-wide award and a national award. See EBRPD awards.
• Regional Trails Network: In mid-1970s, EBRPD pioneered the development of a network of paved trails interlinking the regional parks to the 33 communities in the East Bay. This trail system, spanning over 200 miles long, connects residential neighborhoods to transit hubs, schools, and workplaces that users can commute by walking, skating, or biking. By reducing highway congestion and greenhouse gases, this mode of “Green Transportation” creates livable communities and enables an active healthy lifestyle.
• Volunteer Engagement: Our devoted community of volunteers play a vital role in protecting our parklands and fostering strong interpersonal connections. Annually, before the pandemic, about 12,000 volunteers contribute more than 93,000 hours of service to improve parks, conduct community science projects, assist Public Safety, and represent EBRPD at local community events, connecting new visitors with nature. During the pandemic, the public was encouraged to do local cleanup of their neighborhoods and to submit their hours for acknowledgment.
• Community Engagement: In 2019, we conducted a comprehensive community survey of over 8,000 residents, with 99% viewing EBRPD as a valuable public resource. Our parklands add to the sustainability and quality of life in the East Bay. The survey evaluated community views on several topics including preferred park activities, reasons for visiting, and visitor amenities.
See #7 Affordable and Clean Energy
• Mitigation: Every year we see the increasing impact of a changing climate on our parklands, shorelines, and lakes. Wildfire, extreme heat, sea level rise, flooding, drought, and pests directly impact the Park District’s sensitive ecosystems and adjacent communities. As a result, our priority is to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate wherever possible and adapt where necessary.
• Sea Level Rise: In 2021, we developed the San Francisco Bay Trail Risk Assessment and Adaptation Prioritization Plan (SF Bay Trail RAAPP) to evaluate and protect our vulnerable shorelines and communities. The plan includes nature-based adaptation projects, ecological restoration, and interpretive educational programs,
• Wildfire Prevention: Our Operations and Fire Department staff monitor fire weather conditions every day, maintain healthy forests by thinning excessive growth, and reduce the amount of fuel for a wildfire by clearing heavy underbrush and removing dead vegetation and hazardous trees. In 2019, we added eight fire hazard reduction crew members, two fuels reduction coordinators, and two fire/fuels captains to deliver large fuel reduction projects. View our Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan for Fuels Treatment.
• Biodiversity: Loss of biodiversity is another worry in a changing climate. Loss of biodiversity weakens the land making it vulnerable to disease and pests. Pest control and disease prevention, such as sudden oak death, are top concerns throughout the District. Our Stewardship staff monitor and implement resource enhancement projects to conserve and enhance parkland vegetation, wildlife, and water to ensure that the diverse ecosystems are maintained in healthy and productive conditions. We have a dedicated Integrated Pest Management (IPM) team focused on prevention and control of pest and disease as well as an interdisciplinary working group that meets regularly to review emerging issues. The Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park hosts plants from the 10 geographic regions throughout California with events, classes, tours, and publications from the Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Garden implements best new practices, such as using new pots, sterilizing soil, and elevating plants on metal tables to prevent the spread and transfer of disease.
• Carbon Offset: A 2016 study reported that EBRPD lands store nearly 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, which is comparable to the amount of carbon released by 59,300 vehicles during a year. See #11. The oak and redwood forests in our parks offer shelter and shade to birds and animals, prevent soil erosion and flooding, improve water catchment, generate oxygen, and reduce pollution and high temperatures in the Bay Area.
• Fisheries: The District provides a rich and varied fisheries resource in eleven freshwater lakes, numerous ponds, streams, and miles of Bay and Delta shoreline. The District’s shorelines are part of a region designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for endangered and threatened species, such as delta smelt, winter-run chinook salmon, and steelhead, and for general fisheries improvement. The District fisheries program protects, conserves, enhances, and restores native fish and amphibian species.
• Restoration Projects: In 2020, the District completed the Bay Point Regional Shoreline Restoration Project, which incorporated an innovative adaptive-retreat design to address projected sea level rise. Diverse habitats and structures were created including transition zones, higher grounds or uplands, tidal channels, and other marsh features which facilitated tidal exchange and controlled seasonal inundation. This is one example of numerous past, current, and future creek, lake, riparian, and shoreline restoration projects providing healthy habitats for life below water.
• Wildlife Protection: Over 90 percent of District lands are protected natural landscapes consisting of estuarine, wetland, woodland, forest, riparian, scrubland, and grassland habitats. This dynamic ecosystem supports more than 500 different vertebrate species and about 1550 plant species. The District is responsible for the protection, conservation, and recovery of 15 endangered species (including 6 plants), 17 threatened species (including 1 plant), and 27 fully protected or species of special concern.
• Bald Eagle Return: In February 2012, at Lake Chabot Regional Park, a pair of young bald eagles were sighted building a nest in a eucalyptus grove. The Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and are listed as a California Fully Protected and State Endangered Species. Their return highlights the challenges and successes experienced while balancing eagle protection, working with regulatory agencies and other stakeholder groups, establishing buffer areas, closing trails, creating public viewing points, implementing stop-work criteria, all while daily monitoring the eagles’ behavior. The thoughtful care extended by staff and the public eventually led to the pair fledging their single chick shortly after the Fourth of July. This was an exciting development to see the eagles return after a hiatus of over 100 years!
• Celebrating Peace: Since 2018, we’ve celebrated the UN International Day of Peace at Lake Chabot Regional Park, Castro Valley. In 2020, due to the pandemic, we celebrated it virtually and the event convened over 100 attendees. In 2021, we held an in-person celebration at Lake Chabot with 300+ attendees. We unveiled a 12-foot PEACE POLE inscribed with peace in 31 languages including Chochenyo, Nahuatl, American Sign language and Braille. Watch Board member Dennis Waespi's presentation here (2:08:03). View presentation file.
• Denouncing Racism: On June 16, 2020, our Board of Directors approved a resolution denouncing racism and systemic racial injustice. The resolution also expresses our solidarity with the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, (BIPOC) community. EBRPD will develop an implementation plan to address systemic racial injustice and to make advancement in diversity, equity, and inclusion in our hiring, retention, mentoring, procurement processes. Our vision is to establish listening sessions with our diverse community members and provide training, employment, and recreational opportunities that meet collective interests and needs.
• Honoring Thurgood Marshall: On June 1, 2021, our Board of Directors named the new regional park at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station “Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50.” The naming recognizes the history of the deadly Port Chicago explosion on July 17, 1944, which killed 320 enlisted men, mostly African American, and injured 390 more; the bravery of the 50 service men who protested the discriminatory policies of the segregated Navy including the unsafe and unjust working conditions; and Thurgood Marshall whose advocacy on their behalf as an attorney for the NAACP led to the desegregation of the U.S. military. Marshall went on to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 to October 1991.
• Commemorating Juneteenth: On June 19, 2021, we partnered with Outdoor Afro and local business leaders to commemorate Juneteenth by waiving all fees for park entry, boat launching, and fishing. Juneteenth is an annual recognition of the 250,000 enslaved Black Americans in Texas who were notified of their freedom on June 19,1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. We support Outdoor Afro’s mission to encourage people nationwide to reflect on what freedom means here in America by spending 2.5 hours in nature to recognize the 2.5 years of freedom that was denied to so many. We also support GirlTrek and their mission honoring Harriet Tubman's legacy as well as rallying one million Black women and girls nation wide to walk in their neighborhoods for radical self-care and healing.
• Dotson Family Marsh, Pt Pinole, Richmond: On April 22, 2017, we dedicated the restored 150-acre site to honor former Board member Whitney Dotson and his family for their environmental legacy to save the Richmond shoreline from development. Through the efforts of the Park District, the determined advocacy of the Dotson family, and the nearby Parchester Village residents, the marsh escaped numerous attempts at commercial, business and residential development. Dotson’s father, the Reverend Richard Dotson was determined to keep the marsh wild and open, and a beautiful natural place for the local community to enjoy.
• Access for All: Over the past two years the RPF has distributed over 750 family passes totaling $75,000 to under-resourced families in the BIPOC and LBGTQ+ communities to provide them free access to parks to develop connections with nature and with family members.
• INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS
In 2010, our then General Manager Pat O’Brien attended the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress held in Melbourne, Australia. Upon his return, we established partnership with Parks Victoria in Melbourne to develop and promote the Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative which, very soon after, became a global movement. The goal was for communities around the world to experience health and social connection while spending time in parks and nature. Parks provide preventative and restorative health benefits on many levels - physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. The forests, wetlands, lakes, streams, and aquifers absorb carbon emissions, filter air pollution, and improve water quality and soil. Parks also preserve biodiversity, wildlife, and habitat.
Several park officials from Parks Victoria visited us in 2014 to share best practices in deepening their health programs in southeastern Australia; working collaboratively with Australian Aboriginal peoples; welcoming communities that are historically underrepresented in visitor numbers and/or have higher levels of physical inactivity and with greater health disparities and obstacles.
From this rich collaboration, we established Healthy Parks Healthy People Bay Area in partnership with the Institute at the Golden Gate (IGG) and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) to mobilize parks organizations, medical communities, community-based organizations throughout the nine counties to join the movement to connect parks and health. This collaborative brought together more than 50+ parks, health clinics, and service providers dedicated to building innovative, cross-sector partnerships to advance public health and access to parks.
Several park officials from Osaka Prefectural Park Association, Osaka, Japan paid us a visit in 2015 to share best practices on Healthy Parks Healthy People activities and programs for seniors and ADA community.
In 2015 we established sister city friendship relationships with Jincheon county in South Korea. In 2016 and in 2017, the mayor and his ten cabinet ministers visited EBRPD and we signed MOUs for mutual learning and collaboration. We shared best practices in land preservation, environmental education, and public health in nature. We discussed strategies to prevent and fight wildfires in dense urban areas; mitigate the spread of toxic blue green algae in lakes; increase wetland and habitat restoration; and inspire the next generation to spend time outdoors, away from video games, and become avid park users and stewards of the land. We provided our international guests with an interpretive-led hike and boat ride at Lake Chabot Regional Park.
• LOCAL COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS ACROSS SECTORS
Park Advisory Committee: Our EBRPD Park Advisory Committee (PAC) is a 21-member community advisory group appointed by our Board of Directors. The PAC studies issues and makes recommendations and comments on a spectrum of policy issues, such as grazing, dogs, horses and bikes in parks, the Park District budget, naming park facilities, park land use plans, new concessions, and more. They represent a spectrum of interests and entities from healthcare, technology, universities, ADA groups, to businesses.
Multicultural Park Advisory Committee: Our Multicultural Park Advisory Committee (MAC) comprises 20 BIPOC community leaders from news media, healthcare, churches, temples, advocacy groups, to name a few. They present perspectives and feedback from their community members to ensure that our services and programs are meeting their priorities, needs and interests.
Trail User Working Group: Formed in 2020, our Trail User Working Group convenes 20 to 25 stakeholders who are active trail users in our parklands to engage in dialogs to listen and understand diverse perspectives of creating trail opportunities for all to enjoy and to find solutions to mitigate trail user conflicts.
• AGENCY PARTNERS (to name a few):
Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California Transportation Commission (CTC), City of Oakland, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), Port of Oakland, Almeda County Water District, Contra Costa Water District, Alameda County Public Health Department, Contra Cost Public Health Services, Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.
• COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS (to name a few):
KIDS for the BAY, Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, East Oakland Collective, YES Nature to Neighborhoods, Visión Hispana News Media, Hyundae Korean News Media, Girl Scouts of Northern California, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), Brown Girl Surf, Friends of the San Leandro Creek, Bay Area Ridge Trail, Gaia Passages, Mental Health Association for Chinese Communities, Audubon Society, SF Bay Trail.
• HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS (to name a few):
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, Kaiser Permanente, Contra Costa Health Services, Samuel Merritt University/ Ethnic Health Institute, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Mental Health Association for Chinese Communities (MHACC), Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, Roots Community Health Clinic
• INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS:
Miwok, Plains Miwok, Jalquin, Saclan Tribe, California Indian Environmental Alliance, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sogorea Te' Land Trust