Over 150 volunteers crammed onto a ferry that set sail from Tiburon in honor of upcoming Earth Day this Sunday.
Their destination? The hiker’s paradise of Angel Island. With a backdrop of clear skies and a light breeze, the crew on Saturday joined the California State Parks Foundation’s (CSPF) effort to clean up and restore 17 of the state’s neglected parks. This year’s Earth Day event had particular significance. The state is in the midst of closing down nearly one-quarter of the parks system to meet budget cuts. Volunteers are needed now more than ever, said CSPF spokesperson Jerry Emory.
“It’s a combination of actually getting something done for the parks, and getting people committed to the park, and parks in general,” he said.
Angel Island is not slated for closure this year, although it did need some TLC. After landing, the volunteers broke into teams. One team worked to replace a degrading handrail on the pier with a new, sturdier one. Another pressure-washed the loading ramps at each ferry terminal, and a third group added a fresh coat of paint to the information kiosk. In the same area, new picnic tables were installed that are in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Afterward, volunteers gathered for lunch and to partake in festivities. This event, and others, were sponsored and paid for by PG&E, with contributions from several other sponsors.
Some chose to stay behind and enjoy the park before catching the last ferry out, like Monica Pintor of Mill Valley, who brought her two daughters.
“It gave us a reason to get the family out, and you know, do something good at the same time,” she said.
Elsewhere at Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline in Alameda, volunteers removed invasive plants and picked up trash, while at Mt. Diablo State Park they fixed up trails and built a fence, among other improvements. At Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in southeast San Francisco, volunteers pruned, removed graffiti and planted a native variety of blackberry. Candlestick is expected to close to the public in July.
There is still plenty more to be done. Most parks have a list of deferred maintenance projects. Angel Island’s list totals well over $1 million dollars, but has come down drastically over the years, in part because of volunteers, said Emory. Most tasks on these lists require a professional hand to complete, but if the public continues to step up to finish the more accessible tasks, the parks will be in better shape, he added.
There are many Earth Day events happening this weekend allover the Bay Area. Check them out on Bay Nature’s events calendar. Here is a smattering of them:
Jr. Ranger Program: The Birds, The Bees & The Bubbles. Earth Day coincides with the official start of spring. Get the kiddies in the hands of Ranger Tammi to learn about pollinators and all the critters involved in the process. Best suited: ages 4-12.
Where: Bay Model Visitors Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito
Wildcat Creek Cleanup: Roll up your sleeves and celebrate the Earth by tracking down the sources of trash in your watershed with The Watershed Project. Volunteers will conduct trash surveys of two sections of Wildcat Creek that have been identified as monitoring stations in Contra Costa County. Dress in layers and be sure to wear sturdy shoes.
Where: Meet at Verde Elementary, 2000 Giaramita St., Richmond
Oakland Earth Day: Volunteers will take to the streets to make Oakland a better place at over 100 events throughout the city. This is Oakland’s largest annual volunteer cleanup and beautification event. Go here or call 510-238-7611for a list of locations and events.
Where: all over Oakland
Remove French bloom: El Cerrito’s beautiful Hillside Natural Area has 90 acres of grasslands and oak forest with magnificent views — and invasive French bloom. Help Friends of Five Creeks get rid of the fire-prone plant to make way for the natives. Wear long pants and sleeves and closed-toed shoes with good traction. Small children and those with poison oak sensitivity may want to consider skipping this work party.
Where: Meet at the service road entrance opposite 7500 Schmidt Lane. If you come late, follow the service road, staying downhill.
Heron watching: Celebrate Earth Day by observing nature in action. Stow Lake has a healthy set of great blue heron chicks this year, and you can learn about them from docents on hand.
Where: Stow Lake (Golden Gate Park) follow sign at Boathouse to observation site.
Cost: Nature tours 10:30am-12pm: $10 adults, Free for children.
Earth Day at the Los Altos History Museum: Pick up educational materials to guide you and your family in conserving and caring for our water resources.
Where: 51 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos
Earth Day at the Aquarium: Spend Earth Day weekend learning about the San Francisco Bay. Aquarium by the Bay has a slew of activities in the lineup, including a “water drops” hunt and raffle. Naturalists will be on hand to answer questions.
Where: Aquarium by the Bay, Embarcadero near Beach Street, San Francisco
Cost: Adult: $16.95 ($8.45 with proof of public transit) Senior: $10 ($5 with proof of public transit) Child: $10 ($5 with proof of public transit)
Earth Day San Francisco: The city is throwing a huge Earth Day bash. Check out the many speakers, workshop leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, indigenous community leaders, civic agencies, musicians, and youth empowerment groups.
Where: Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco