Conservationists and environmental groups have been working for years to protect bobcats in California, where they’re sometimes trapped for their fur.
But in the East Bay Regional Park District, the short-tailed felines are thriving, fully protected and common sights at some of District’s more remote parks.
Bobcats can be spotted at most parks – and probably even in some backyards – east of Interstate 680. Sunol, Del Valle, Brushy Peak, Round Valley and Morgan Territory offer ideal bobcat habitat, with ample grasslands and wooded areas for hunting and shelter.
They’re most active at dawn and dusk, and, like most cats, are expert rodent hunters. In the East Bay, they’re an important part of the food chain, helping keep the mouse, rabbit and squirrel populations in check.
Bobcats are slightly larger than house cats, ranging from 11 to 30 pounds, and are easily recognized by their short tails, wide ruffs around their faces, and muscular bodies. They’re active throughout the year, but these warm summer dusks are a great time to spot them stalking prey in a field or traipsing through a woodland.
One of the Park District’s most popular events, the Cajun/Zydeco Music Festival, returns for its 19th year at Ardenwood Historic Farm on Aug. 15.
This year’s line-up includes: Andrew Carriere and the Cajun/Zydeco Allstars, Corey Ledet and his Zydeco Band, Andre Thierry, and the Pine Leaf Boys. Cajun and creole food, dance lessons and specialty vendors round out the festival bill.
Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for youth. Proceeds benefit the Parks Express, which provides transportation to East Bay Regional Parks for low-income young people, seniors and people with disabilities.
Bring a blanket, lawn chairs and your dancing shoes. The festival is from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Ardenwood, 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont. To purchase tickets online, go to www.ebparks.org or call (888) 327-2757, option 2.
You don’t need to schlep all the way to the Sierra if you want to go camping. The East Bay Regional Park District offers hundreds of campsites for families, groups, equestrians and backpackers. Summer weekends are typically pretty crowded, but plenty of great campsites are available mid-week for a quick getaway to the great outdoors.
Family campsites are at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the hills between Oakland and Castro Valley, and at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore. The cost is $25 per night, or $35-45 for sites with RV hookups. Dogs are $2 extra.
Campsites for groups of 11 or more people are available at 30 different parks throughout the District. Group campsites at Chabot and Del Valle have access to showers and flush toilets, while group campsites are 30 other parks throughout the District have portable toilets and no showers. The campsite capacities vary, from fewer than 50 people to 300 people. Costs range from $75 to $200.
Horseback riders can take advantage of special sites at Chabot, Del Valle, Las Trampas and Tilden to camp with their four-legged friends. Costs range from $75 to $200 per night.
For the most adventurous campers, dozens of backpacking sites are also available. Most of the sites are several miles from a parking lot and campers must carry their gear in. Most of the sites include places to pitch a tent, picnic tables and pit toilets. Cost is $5.
To make reservations, go to reserveamerica.com or call (888) 327-2757.