East Bay Parks: In 2016, get outdoors and get healthy


By Ned McKay


Communing with nature can boost your resistance to diseases, according to an article referenced in the January issue of Consumer Reports.


The article cites work by Ming Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana.


“Nature doesn’t just have one or two active ingredients, “ she said. “It’s more like a multivitamin that provides us with the nutrients we need to protect us from different diseases.”


With that in mind, consider the variety of free, immunity boosting outdoor activities offered in the East Bay Regional Parks this upcoming weekend.


You could start out at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, where the naturalist staff will lead a walk from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9 to view deciduous and evergreen trees, ducks, and mushrooms among other winter flora and fauna.


Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. For general information on the park, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.


And there’s always something going on at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley. Three programs are on the agenda during the weekend.


First, you can make your own rain stick and learn how to conserve water, with help from interpretive student aide Sharona Kleinman. The program is from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9.


There’s a walk on the wild side from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. the same day with naturalist Trail Gail Broesder. It’s a trek to the top of Wildcat Peak, looking for wildlife along the way and enjoying panoramic views at the summit. Bring water and snacks.


Then from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10, Sharona will organize a bingo game with a wildlife theme. At the end, you get to keep the cards.


All three programs meet at the Environmental Education Center, located at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.


Speaking of rain, weather is the theme of Family Nature Fun hour from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9 and 10, at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda.


The staff will lead activities based on the science of clouds, storms and extreme weather. Then it’s fish feeding time at the center’s aquariums from 3 to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

The aquariums contain many varieties of fish that inhabit San Francisco Bay. Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.


Ducks are on the agenda at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. Naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead a stroll on a boardwalk through the park’s marshes from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9 to view our overwintering web-footed friends.


Kristina’s program is for ages six and older and parent participation is required. Meet at the visitor center at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway.


Coyote Hills has a Family Fun Hour, too. It’s from 2 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, Jan. 10 a tour of the visitor center nectar garden is planned.


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