The Fremont Podcast

Episode 91: Exploring Coyote Hills and the East Bay Regional Parks with Olivia Sanwong and Erin Blackwood

September 29, 2023 Ricky B Season 2 Episode 91
Episode 91: Exploring Coyote Hills and the East Bay Regional Parks with Olivia Sanwong and Erin Blackwood
The Fremont Podcast
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The Fremont Podcast
Episode 91: Exploring Coyote Hills and the East Bay Regional Parks with Olivia Sanwong and Erin Blackwood
Sep 29, 2023 Season 2 Episode 91
Ricky B

In this episode, we chat with our special guest, Olivia Sanwong, director of East Bay Regional Parks District Ward 5 and naturalist Erin Blackman. An expert in sustainability with a background in applied mathematics, Olivia gives us an insider's look into her vital role in managing this abundant park district. You'll be intrigued by her journey, from her time on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors to her deep-rooted connection to our city of Fremont.

Coyote Hills Regional Park is a significant site to the local Ohlone people. We navigate the rich history and vibrant culture of this haven, offering unique experiences of birdwatching and biking. It doesn't stop there - we talk about the Dumbarton Quarry Campground, highlighting the amenities it provides and its proximity to other wildlife refuges, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

When we encounter the unfortunate case of Mission Peak's vandalism, we discuss the response by the East Bay Regional Parks District and also delve into the intriguing history of the Ohlone people in California. We round off this episode by highlighting the valuable partnership between the East Bay Regional Parks District and the library system, providing backpacks with supplies to facilitate park exploration. Be prepared to be inspired by our parks and the world of the great outdoors!

Learn more about Olivia and the EBRPD here.

Learn more about Coyote Hills Visitor Center here. 

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here. 

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

Additionally, Banter Bookshop is the best little bookshop in Fremont. They are a sponsor of that podcast. And we are excited to have them as a partner.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we chat with our special guest, Olivia Sanwong, director of East Bay Regional Parks District Ward 5 and naturalist Erin Blackman. An expert in sustainability with a background in applied mathematics, Olivia gives us an insider's look into her vital role in managing this abundant park district. You'll be intrigued by her journey, from her time on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors to her deep-rooted connection to our city of Fremont.

Coyote Hills Regional Park is a significant site to the local Ohlone people. We navigate the rich history and vibrant culture of this haven, offering unique experiences of birdwatching and biking. It doesn't stop there - we talk about the Dumbarton Quarry Campground, highlighting the amenities it provides and its proximity to other wildlife refuges, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

When we encounter the unfortunate case of Mission Peak's vandalism, we discuss the response by the East Bay Regional Parks District and also delve into the intriguing history of the Ohlone people in California. We round off this episode by highlighting the valuable partnership between the East Bay Regional Parks District and the library system, providing backpacks with supplies to facilitate park exploration. Be prepared to be inspired by our parks and the world of the great outdoors!

Learn more about Olivia and the EBRPD here.

Learn more about Coyote Hills Visitor Center here. 

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here. 

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

Additionally, Banter Bookshop is the best little bookshop in Fremont. They are a sponsor of that podcast. And we are excited to have them as a partner.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Speaker 1:

I'm Gary Williams. Your reviews help other people find this podcast. If you would please leave a review on iTunes.

Speaker 2:

So I love being a part of the park district and also being the representative for World Five, because this Alameda Creek watershed is so important to me. In fact, if I ever write a book, it's going to be about Alameda Creek watershed.

Speaker 3:

It sounds to me like you're already writing one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, maybe one day soon you might see that Coming to you straight from Fremont, california. This is the Fremont podcast, dedicated to telling the stories of the past and present of the people and places of the city of Fremont, one conversation at a time.

Speaker 4:

Hello, fremont. Ricky told me to go to the Alameda Creek trail trail head to tell you this is episode 91 of the Fremont podcast.

Speaker 1:

Now here's your host, Ricky B Aaron.

Speaker 3:

Yes, hi, hi, you are one of the naturalists here.

Speaker 4:

Yes, that's correct.

Speaker 3:

Okay Now. Are you a naturalist just at Coyote Hills, or are you at other parks?

Speaker 4:

as well. Well, I'm based here at Coyote Hills, where we have the visitor center but, other parks in our what we call our sector include Hayward Regional, shoreline and Garen Regional Parks. Okay, and we have a lot of programs there as well.

Speaker 3:

Okay, and then how long have you been involved in the park system?

Speaker 4:

Just a little over a year.

Speaker 3:

Okay, all right, very good. I'd love to hear what you did before this.

Speaker 4:

Well, that's a, that's a story, a long story.

Speaker 3:

Well, I'm also joined by Olivia. Is it San Wong? San Wong, yes, san Wong, okay, and what is your official role in the park system?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I am the director for Ward 5 for East Bay Regional Parks. It's an elected position.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

I started on January one of this year, wow. So I'm even newer in a sense to the park district, Although prior to my role on the board, I was on our park advisory committee, which is a volunteer organization, and I did serve on the park advisory committee for eight years, so I do have a pretty you know long time connection to the park district. In fact I'll make a quick plug I am recruiting for the park advisory committee and I'd really like to appoint someone from Fremont or Newark.

Speaker 4:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

If you're just out there who are interested? Please feel free to email me, oh San Wong at ebparksorg, or you can even call or text me at my park district number of 510-387-9831.

Speaker 3:

Awesome, very good. So what kind of expectation or responsibility is placed on somebody in that role?

Speaker 2:

Yes, On the park advisory committee. It's one meeting a month and then there are some field trips that happen throughout the year to go and visit parks throughout the district. So real quick. You know East Bay Regional Parks covers all of Alameda County and Contra Costa County. We have a population of 2.8 million across these two counties.

Speaker 3:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

That's a pretty significant population. I believe that's equivalent to the population of the state of Connecticut, and I know you love stories, but I'll also share. I'm a big trivia buff so I always love to share.

Speaker 3:

There, you go.

Speaker 1:

There you go.

Speaker 2:

So Ward 5, which is the southeastern portion of Alameda County which I represent, starts in the unincorporated eastern portion of Alameda County near. Livermore goes through Livermore, dublin, pleasanton down through Sunol. Here in Fremont I believe it's about 70% of Fremont. The dividing line is mostly near Civic Center area between Ward 5 and Ward 3. And then Newark is also included in.

Speaker 1:

Ward 5.

Speaker 2:

So here in Coyote Hills we are in Ward 5, and that's one reason why I want to schedule us here today, so that we could profile such an important visitor center and park in the Fremont community.

Speaker 3:

That's cool. So, and you are the supervisor, or is that? You said that was your role, or what board of directors?

Speaker 2:

Because we are a public agency, so I represent, you know, the voters and the residents of this area in terms of providing civic oversight at the board level and we also do approve, you know, the budget for the park district and also the different policies that guide the park district.

Speaker 3:

Wow, so you were on the advisory board and then prior like how did you get into like doing what you're doing in the park system? Was the advisory board something that you've always wanted to do, or did you have a degree in naturalism or parks, or like, what's your background?

Speaker 2:

Yes, so my degree from UCLA is actually in applied mathematics.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that fits.

Speaker 2:

So very different role, but actually it does help because I'm a numbers person.

Speaker 4:

Okay Again, members really like numbers Budget. Yes.

Speaker 2:

And my career has been in technology and biotechnology, which is also really important, and also in regards to connecting with the Ward 5 population. A lot of people work in tech and biotech.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's good.

Speaker 2:

And then I do have an MBA, and part of my MBA I'm very focused on sustainability and I believe that that's what got me into public service. So in parallel to serving on the East Bay Regional Parks Advisory Committee, I also served for four and a half years on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors. And Zone 7 covers that eastern portion of Alameda County, livermore, dublin, pleasanton, down through Sonora, so it's a pretty nice profile with the Ward 5 district within East Bay Regional Parks.

Speaker 3:

So would you say that the position that you're elected to, would you say that this is more of something, is it more of a surprise to you, or is it something that you could have seen yourself doing 10 years ago?

Speaker 2:

It's like I think you know this past weekend. So I grew up in Pleasanton a nearby Pleasanton and I went to Amador Valley High School and we celebrated our 100-year centennial this past weekend.

Speaker 4:

Wow, wow.

Speaker 2:

And I'm confident. If you talk to my classmates at Amador, they wouldn't be surprised that I'm doing what I'm doing now, but I can also share with you. Yes, I'm very surprised. This wasn't necessarily part of my plan but, I love the park district.

Speaker 2:

I can share with you my personal motivation. You know, having been on the Zone 7 water agency board, you know one of my passions is the Alameda Creek Watershed and the Alameda Creek Watershed it starts on, I guess we could say, this side, the south side of Mount Diablo. In fact, some of the headwaters were recent land acquisition by East Bay Regional Parks, finley.

Speaker 1:

Ranch.

Speaker 2:

Road. That's where Tassahara Creek starts and we have this whole system of arroyos and creeks, you know, starting on that south side of Mount Diablo, and all of that water eventually connects and flows through Sunol and Niles Canyon and then goes out to the San Francisco Bay here at Coyote Hills. In fact we have a lovely trail that you can walk or ride your bike out and see where the water enters the bay.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I've ridden my bike because I live close to the bridge at Mission Boulevard goes across to Niles and so we can hop on the Alameda Creek there, and I've ridden my bike all the way down here and actually out into the bay on some of these trails out here. So it's really cool.

Speaker 2:

So I love being a part of the park district and also being the representative for World Five, because this Alameda Creek watershed is so important to me. In fact, if I ever write a book, it's going to be about Alameda Creek watershed. It sounds to me like you're already writing one. Yeah, maybe one day soon you might see that.

Speaker 3:

That's cool, very good. So you're on two different, so you're elected into this position and you're on the watershed board.

Speaker 2:

I had to resign from the water board because that was also an elected position.

Speaker 3:

And in California there's different conflicts of interest codes, so it's not possible to be on both. I got you. Okay, that makes sense. What got you into the park system?

Speaker 4:

Well, I have always been interested in nature and teaching people about nature. Initially I was more interested in science and I quickly learned that a lot of science is repetitive and you have to be kind of really objective about whatever you're studying, and I was like I don't like that. So I really was interested in teaching others about what I was passionate about, and so that's the path that I've taken for many years now, and yesterday you were interested in what I was doing before.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was gonna say is there a short version to that story?

Speaker 4:

Sure. So. Bachelor's degree in marine biology. So my first passion is marine biology. Then I got a Master's in Environmental Education, Western Washington University and oh, Bachelor's at UC Santa Cruz, Gobanana Slugs. And then I worked at various nonprofits, Worked at the Marine Mammal Center for a while, Bay Area Discovery Museum, and for 15 years I worked at San Francisco State University's Estuary and Ocean Science Center which is the marine lab up in Teberon.

Speaker 3:

Wow, so, yeah, I know you're here. Wow, that's a lot. And now you're here. Yeah, I'm here. How long have you lived in this area?

Speaker 1:

I just moved to Fremont when I got this job, wow.

Speaker 4:

So yeah, I'm enjoying learning a new place?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, what does a day to day, week to week sort of rhythm look like for you Like? What do you find yourself doing around here?

Speaker 4:

Well, most of the school year we have school programs that come and visit us, and so I and another colleague would usually tag team on doing a school program and our most of our school programs are focused on Aloni cultures. So this is the homeland of the Tui Buon Aloni people here at Cody Hills, and so we really focus on talking about Aloni peoples in the present tense. We introduced some language, we introduced some uses of plants and some of the items that the Aloni peoples make with the plants that are here, and that's it's very popular.

Speaker 4:

We had I was just looking at I know you don't like a lot of numbers, but I was just looking it up we had-.

Speaker 3:

I'll take numbers.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I think we had 1500 students One month this spring. And yeah, we were very, very popular park, by the way, in the spring when there were wildflowers, for some reason, everyone thought we were having a super bloom here and we were very, very busy. There were lots of folks. At the same time, our roads were flooded because of all the rain, so it was a very interesting spring here.

Speaker 3:

I noticed it's September and in previous years that I've been out here at this point in time, all of this the marsh area is usually. I mean you can see the bed.

Speaker 4:

Or it's dry last year, or it's dry altogether. Last year it was totally dry, and I drove in.

Speaker 3:

I haven't been in the park probably in a month or two and I was just so excited to see the water and it was full and I mean it's not maybe not entirely full, but it was. It's the fullest. I've seen it since I've lived here and it's been nine years, so I think that's really great.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it is Well. Of course we've had drought for 10 years. So yeah, we had a lot of questions about that last year.

Speaker 1:

It's like where's all the water Well?

Speaker 4:

it's a seasonal wetland actually, but yes, this year we're fortunate to have a good amount of water and lots of ducks and things to see.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was a record breaking year for rainfall here in the Bay Area this past winter of 2023. So it's fascinating, as someone who's very into this idea of how do we manage our natural resources during drought times and during flood times and flood management. It's a really important conversation to have.

Speaker 3:

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Speaker 3:

I want to tell you about Milk and Honey Cafe. They're a family-owned restaurant located on Fremont Boulevard in North Fremont. They serve fresh noodles, stir fries, bentos soup, vegetarian dishes, boba drinks and so much more. And for Fremont podcast listeners, if you make a purchase of $50 or more, you get a complimentary Thai tea or a fruit tea with your purchase. You can find out how to dine in or order at Milk and Honey at Fremontcom. For more information and links, be sure to check out our show notes. If you want to hear more of their story, check out episode 8 on the Fremont podcast. Well, I think that even you know. Speaking of the Alameda Creek, I love driving up and down Niles Canyon.

Speaker 1:

I do it all the time, if I have to go to Pleasanton.

Speaker 3:

I always take the canyon because like it's a beautiful drive right. And it's still flowing with water. It's beautiful. You know, I love that.

Speaker 2:

I wish we could have it every year, but unfortunately, being in California, we will have longer periods of droughts and that's what we have to plan for going forward.

Speaker 4:

Well, there is an El Nino forecast for this year, so we'll see. Maybe we'll have it again.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's great. So you were talking about the Aloney people and this is their land and I love how you mentioned it being in the speak of it in the present tense, so I think that's great. They are still here, they are still here. Yeah, and we have a special day, this, so this episode of probably aired just before this, the day that you guys have planned, but can you tell me a little bit about what? What is happening on October 1st and what is the plan for this event?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so we have the gathering of the Aloney peoples, and it has been an annual event. Of course, the last few years we've done it just virtually, so this is the first time since the pandemic began that we're having it in person.

Speaker 3:

So we're very excited. That's great.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so it'll be from 10 am to 3 pm.

Speaker 3:

On October 1st.

Speaker 4:

On October 1st Sunday October 1st and we'll have songs and dances. We'll have different, you know, making acorn, processing acorns into food, making soaproot brushes, making string with dogbane so using various plants to make things. So it'll be a lot of like demonstrations and hands-on activities and just really learning directly from the indigenous people.

Speaker 2:

that live here. That's awesome. Yeah, it's the best. And for those who aren't able to make it on the 1st but have an interest in learning about the Ohlone people, we do have a permanent exhibit here at Coyote Hills. And I think it's an amazing permanent exhibit, one of the few in the Bay Area, featuring the Ohlone people. Do you want to talk a little bit about the permanent exhibit?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, your visitor center is fantastic. I mean, I think with a lot of the other, like there are state parks and they do a good job. You know even national parks, obviously they have great. But just the fact that this is a regional park and it's part of the system, coming into this welcome center, this visitor center, is just really, really great. So, yeah, tell a little bit about what people can experience by coming in. That's great to hear.

Speaker 4:

We do have a life-size Ohlone boat, which Chochanya word is Wali. That's the language that the Ohlone people speak in this area. Excuse me, we have a house. Both the boat and the house are made out of tulii, which is a plant that grows out in the marsh, and the tulii house is called a Ruewe and that's out in front of the visitor center. So even if it's closed, folks can take a look at that and give you a step inside if they want.

Speaker 4:

And then we have a beautiful basket exhibit here as well, showcasing some of the just gorgeous basketry done by not just the people from this area but also in other parts of California so we've incorporated other parts of California and there's a really neat little diorama of Ohlone village in miniature. And just the detail and it is just, it's really amazing.

Speaker 3:

It's really fun to look at. That's awesome. What are some of the things that you point out to people who come and visit that are unique to the Ohlone people? What are some of the things that they would be able to see here? I grew up on the East Coast and on the East Coast we were talked about the Sioux, the Cherokee, and I didn't hear about the Ohlone people until I moved out here, and so what are some of the things? If somebody either moved in from, even out of the country, or from another part of the country, what are some of the things that they would be able to learn and experience regarding the Ohlone people by coming here that would be unique to them?

Speaker 4:

Well, I think one thing that's interesting, making that contrast between the Sioux and Cheyenne and those groups, is that people don't talk about the Ohlone, or they didn't learn about the Ohlone because they were assumed to be gone. They were assumed to no longer be alive and for many years they were considered to be extinct. One of the things that the Ohlone people had to do to survive over time is to just claim that they were Mexican or say that they were. Mexican instead of being Ohlone, because there was a time in California where there was a bounty on Ohlone people, and so yes, that's crazy.

Speaker 4:

It's been very hard, trying times for the indigenous people here, but they're incredibly resilient and, of course, they're still here. It's still practicing their culture. So I think that's really the most important message that we get across in our programs is that all of these things are part of the past, but they're also part of the present and the future, that they're still making a lot of these same things. They're doing a lot of the same things, and that's the one thing we'd like to showcase with the or not necessarily showcase, but celebrate with the Ohlone gathering.

Speaker 1:

That's great.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and so, and many of the same plants that the Ohlone people have used since time immemorial are still growing here in Coyote Hills.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome. That's very cool. So October 1st people get an opportunity to interact and engage with Ohlone peoples and see different things that were part of their culture and their customs.

Speaker 4:

That's really cool. Yeah, it's going to be a lot of fun. Parking will be limited. We will be having a shuttle, though for folks that because we promise they will not be parking right in front of our visitor center, they just will not be.

Speaker 3:

Well, I mean, I would even say that any given weekend it's hard to find parking. Well, during the so-called super bloom.

Speaker 4:

That was definitely the case. Yeah, it was people having a hard time finding parking during that time. Yeah, our visitation kind of fluctuates throughout the year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Coyote Hills is special. While East Bay Regional Parks is across Alameda and Counter Costa County, we certainly serve a greater Bay area here at Coyote Hills and, being so close to Santa Clara County, I know I've been here at Coyote Hills walking on the trails and I'll meet people from San Jose and from Palo Alto who are enjoying Coyote Hills and we also will have visitors from outside the Bay area, outside the United States, coming to our parks across the East Bay Regional Park District, including Coyote Hills.

Speaker 2:

It's a very interesting place to be to see all the different visitors that we have.

Speaker 3:

It's kind of unassuming in the sense that it's next to a place where people are usually commuting.

Speaker 3:

They're coming across a Dunbarton Bridge, everything's flat up into the water. And then also you see these bumps right when you get to the mouth of the bridge and you're like, oh, what's that? If you don't pay attention you may miss it. But when you come in here and you spend time in the parks, there's some really cool things to discover here. When my family moved here nine years ago, my son was one and a half almost two and we started coming here and he would explore as much as a two-year-old could. We loved being here. We still love being here. We still come here quite a bit. What are some of the other things here at Coyote Hills that people? We talked about this event with the Gathering of the Ohlone Peoples. What are things that people might not know about that are here at the Coyote Hills that might be of interest to them?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'll share. In general, I know at East Bay Regional Parks we're really proud of focusing on trying to create welcoming parks and a place to come and just take a walk in the park. It's very good for your mental health. What I love about Coyote Hills is when I come here I see lots of strollers, lots of children and I think that it's a very and dogs yeah dogs. I think we saw some coming in today even a lot of dogs, I think with Coyote Hills you really get a true multi-user base.

Speaker 2:

I know in a moment we might talk about Mission Peak. Mission Peak's a little bit different not quite as stroll or friendly. For me personally right before I started on the board of directors. So in December I had a 17-year-old cat that I had to euthanize and that was probably a really tough day for me. I just want to get away and go for an easy walk and I came to Coyote Hills. For me and my personal mental health that day, it was just a really nice place to come to.

Speaker 2:

I want to stress that because we talked about this a lot on the board of directors about our parks, and I know that there's a lot of conversations about mental health and I think we're so lucky in East Bay to have so many different options. If you need that hard hike and want to get some aggressive exercise, we have Mission.

Speaker 4:

Peak for you.

Speaker 2:

But if you have a stroller or you're just looking for an easier walk, maybe you're dealing with something like having to euthanize your cat.

Speaker 4:

We have Coyote Hills where you come and walk. I've actually seen stroll. We have some pretty good peaks here, the tops of the hills here and I've seen strollers going up and down the hills.

Speaker 2:

It's amazing what people will do to get to the top of the hill. There's some hardcore enthusiasm. Yes, I'm sure some strollers have made it to the top of Mission Peak.

Speaker 3:

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Speaker 3:

I have a story of so my family during COVID had gotten into riding our bikes a lot more, and so we brought our bikes out here a couple of years ago Maybe it was even 2020. And we I had gone out into the bay on some of the trails that go out there. It was incredible. I have a story about coming across to Barn Owl in the middle of the night and it was hovering over the trail where it was about ready to, you know, grab its prey and it's like right in front and I don't think it even noticed that we were there, which was a surprise, but it just hovered right in front of us, and then it was really cool white Barn Owl but I had ridden out there, had a great experience, and then I brought my family out here to ride along and it was one of the windiest days that I've ever.

Speaker 3:

I mean, and I had my, my son, who is like seven or eight at the time, and my wife and we. We rode down and I thought there was a way out close to where, like Dumbarton Bridge starts, and there isn't. So we've battled the wind all the way down there, only to find out that we have to come back the way we just came and it was it was a lot of work. So now when I suggest riding our bikes at Coyote Hills, it's not always a favorable option for us anymore, but but that was out on the bay, I mean. I think there's so many other cool trails right around the park, you know, protected from the wind, that are really cool as well.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, the only place you can't ride your bike here at Coyote Hills is into the marsh, so, like on the boardwalk of the marsh, we want people riding their bikes and that's a good place for birdwatching Absolutely, we are. We are a very popular park for birdwatching here.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 4:

See, there's avid birdwatchers that come with their giant camera, giant cameras, yeah, exactly. And I was like oh, what are you here to say to see today? And they'll tell me the name of some bird. That's like okay, I'm fairly new to birding. I'm a slow learner when it comes to birding.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think that there. I think that was one of the first things that I'd heard about Coyote Hills when I moved here was the amount of the variety of species that were here at Coyote Hills, especially at different times of the year. And it's phenomenal. And I've seen people out here. They know what they're doing, because you'll see three or four of them all show up with their massive camera lenses and everything, and they'll be like they're all here for the same purpose and like they've been doing their research.

Speaker 4:

I think it has to do with a variety of habitats in the park. You know, because you have the San Francisco Bay, you've got a freshwater marsh. You've got, you know, hills where birds of prey can get. You know, thermals up off the hills. And you've got, you know, riparian areas it's. It's a really diverse habitat in this park and this is something we really prioritize at the park district.

Speaker 2:

You know we have 55 miles of shoreline and I know you also work with the Hayward shoreline and we talk a lot about what we can do in regards to helping. You know birds and their migration patterns and what kind of habitat we need to make sure is available for these migrating birds, and I know that there's some efforts just north of here along the Hayward shoreline to think about a very specific species that's a little bit less common, to make sure that their migratory pattern is intact.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and there's some endangered species that you know we're looking out for here in regional parks. That's cool.

Speaker 3:

So I have a question then Do you see coyotes here in the hills?

Speaker 4:

That's the first question that kids ask when they get off the bus. Where?

Speaker 3:

are the coyotes. It's called coyote hills.

Speaker 4:

Well, yes, I have not seen any, but I know there have been sightings.

Speaker 1:

I haven't seen any personally. I've seen one, but I've heard them. Yeah, oh yeah, I think they were getting dark earlier.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it'll be common to hear them.

Speaker 3:

So I think and I know this happened to a lot of parks around the country during COVID, when they shut down a lot of the national parks and stuff for a certain amount of time, especially that season of 2020. They started seeing animals come out that they hadn't seen in decades.

Speaker 2:

This also happened in downtown San Francisco, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Right, right, I think too, one of the things that I I'm not a naturalist, I'm not going to even, you know, try to make anybody believe I know what I'm talking about in this. But I love riding my bike down Alameda Creek and there are game trails down Alameda Creek all the way from the canyon, all the way down here, and you can see footprints of all different large animals, and so I'm pretty pretty certain whether it's bobcats or coyotes or even mountain lions, they make their way at night down the Alameda Creek all the way into this area. So I would not doubt to see if you saw, you know, coyotes. I've seen coyotes once since I've been here and it was at dusk and it was really cool out here. But I was just curious if they're out here very often.

Speaker 4:

They are just, yeah, not not usually in the middle of the day when we have school programs coming.

Speaker 3:

That's cool. That's cool. What are some of the other things that are around this park that people might be interested in knowing about that maybe they'd be unfamiliar with?

Speaker 4:

Well, I think there's a lot of. There's so many trails. I'm not sure if everybody's familiar with all of the trails. One of my favorites that is not very highly visited is and now it will be is the Willows Trail. So if you go, you know, from the visitor center out over the boardwalk past the Oloni Village site, which, by the way, is no longer open to the public you'll if you keep going.

Speaker 4:

You run into the Willows Trail and it just goes through like a thicket of Willows and there's signs out there that says don't feed the foxes. I'm like, okay, where are the foxes? I won't feed them.

Speaker 1:

But I want to see them.

Speaker 4:

I just want to see them. I'm still hoping to see a fox someday. Yeah, yeah, that's cool, yeah.

Speaker 3:

I love the. We were talking about this before, just a little bit ago but I love the different features that are around here, like the Willow Thicket, the rocks that are up on the up on the hills, the one rock that has a.

Speaker 3:

it juts out and it's just a beautiful feature up on that hill and other various rocks. I've got a video it's on. My son actually has an Instagram that I've been an Instagram account that I've been running for years called California child and when he was like three years old, we have a video of him up on one of the rocks, up on a coyote hills here and he you know he's three or four, you know he's having a hard time talking, but he's like dad, dad, a chameleon. A chameleon and he had been.

Speaker 3:

I guess he'd been watching videos about lizards and thought every lizard was a chameleon Right and he's like it's real, it head moved and we always we always joke with him it head moved. So we've got a little video of him and there's a little lizard out there and he's like looking at it. But it's also a place where there's tons of poison oak there as well.

Speaker 3:

So that was that was actually more comments about the poison oak. People were like you didn't let him touch the poison oak, Did you Like? No, but he loved that. So there's a lot of different features out here, of different things to see.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, there's a lot of fun, fun wildlife lizards, little tiny frogs you know fun stuff to see, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And then the other item I wanted to highlight is in 2021,. We opened the Dunbarton Quarry campground.

Speaker 4:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

And I was going to ask you about that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know it's our first. It's the park district's first urban campground developed along the San Francisco Bay and it's one of the newest large campgrounds opened in California in three decades. And I've noticed, during the COVID pandemic, you know, rvs and van life have certainly also taken out in addition to bike riding. And at this campground we have 63 family campsites, 60 with the full RV, recreational vehicle hookups and it's direct access to all the trails we have here at Coyote. Hills as well as the nearby US Fish and Wildlife Don Edwards National Wildlife.

Speaker 3:

Refuge. Wow, that's cool. So my question is is it only for RVs, or can I bring a tent and camp there?

Speaker 4:

I have seen a few tents pitched there, but I don't think it's as comfortable as it would be. I know that there are plans in the future to expand the campground and there will be more tent sites. I couldn't say when that will be completed. But yeah, I've seen people pitch tents there.

Speaker 3:

I think it is possible.

Speaker 1:

That's great.

Speaker 4:

And also in the summer we have campfire programs.

Speaker 3:

So that's something to look forward to again next summer At that campsite or something. Yeah, okay.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, there's an amphitheater there.

Speaker 3:

Oh.

Speaker 4:

And we make a little propane campfire and bring s'mores and we have a different topic every week. Every week, okay, so that's a.

Speaker 3:

You said 63 sites, there 63 different.

Speaker 2:

Family campsites.

Speaker 3:

Family campsites 60 with the full RV hookup. That's awesome, wow. So I actually, when I was working for REI because I worked with them for about five years we planned a store-wide retreat and used the no-transcript. The camp, the group campsite that was here Is that still operational, oh, at Dairy Glen, yeah, yeah. Dairy Glen so we used that and we were able to set up our whole store came out there for a meeting and we set it up and we had a great time, loved that.

Speaker 3:

That was actually when we saw the barn owl in the middle, because a bunch of us who have bikes that worked at REI, we all brought our bikes and we went for a ride at night down across the bay and that's when we saw the barn owl, which was very cool. But is Dairy Glen still?

Speaker 4:

operating. Oh yeah, definitely it's available for reservations.

Speaker 3:

And that's a group campsite.

Speaker 4:

Yes, and I know that there's some stipulations on that as far as vehicles and stuff like that, but it's important and it's important to mind all those as well, yes, vehicles, I don't believe, are allowed to drive all the way out to the campsite, but we do have carts that people can borrow to load up all their gear and take it out there. That's awesome very good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'll also share. We have 73 parks across the entire East Bay Regional Park.

Speaker 3:

District.

Speaker 2:

I have some more fun data points.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that'd be great. No, I wanna hear about them.

Speaker 2:

That's 125,496 acres as of today and 1,330 miles of trails and, as I mentioned earlier, 55 miles of that.

Speaker 3:

How many miles is?

Speaker 2:

that 1,330 miles of trails. So, in terms of campsites, we do have other campsites across the park district, as well as the ability. In fact, you can go from Mission Peak to DelVal through Sunol and Eloni parks on a. It depends on how fast you hike Backpacking trail?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you can do it two nights three nights, four nights.

Speaker 2:

And there are places where you can camp along the way. Get a permit, of course?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think you have to get reservations on those campsites at least a week in advance. I think is what the I think is what it at least it was when I checked it out, like, if you're gonna backpack because I so. When I worked for REI, I did a lot of classes and taught a lot about, you know, backpacking and stuff, and so people would ask where's the closest place to go, and so I did a lot of research on it and I think it has changed. The one thing I love about this is that it used to be that you'd have to either call in or it was all very, very. It was a slow process. Now it's you can do it online, which I think is amazing. You can get a reservation online. So I don't know if maybe you have to get it a week out anymore, but I know that before, when it wasn't online, it was you'd have to plan ahead in order to be able to do any kind of backpacking or anything out there, and I'm sure it depends on demand, right?

Speaker 2:

If you want to go a week when there's lots of people that have already signed up, then yeah.

Speaker 3:

But that I was gonna say that trail from Mission Peak or Senol out to Del Val is just incredible and it is not easy, I mean it's a. It's a it's a there's parts of it that are a bit challenging.

Speaker 4:

Well, I would also like to add that the Ohlone Wilderness requires a wilderness permit to hike there. And we sell those permits here at the Coyote Hills Visitor Center. That's awesome.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's very good. Yeah, I think I think that people don't realize and I, you know, I think it is important. I mean, I'm just the Fremont podcast. I wanted to focus on Fremont, but the truth is is that there are so many things directly connected to the Fremont area, like Senol Regional Wilderness is just an amazing place to get out and see different things. You have Del Val, which is a great place. You can swim in the summertime, you can rent boats, rent canoes or whatever, and all those are part of the park system and they're really really close to Fremont. And I think that helping people to realize that you know getting out into these parks and out into the wilderness is not harder is not, it's not, it's not that hard. You know, it's easier than people would imagine. So I think that's really good to make people aware of that.

Speaker 2:

And then back to my earlier point, thinking about water and our waterways and the Alameda Creek watershed. You know, all of the water that flows through Senol comes through Niles and then enters the San Francisco Bay here at.

Speaker 2:

Coyote Hill. So it's connected in that natural way. But then in terms of turning on your drinking water tap at home, that water here in Fremont is serviced by Alameda County Water District, acwd, and they are a part of what we call the South Bay Aqueducts, so zone seven the board that I was previously on is also part of that group. And then Santa Clara Valley Water in Santa Clara County is a part of it and DelVal is the drinking water reservoir.

Speaker 2:

So when you go to DelVal as a Fremont resident, you are looking at the reservoir for your drinking water that is serviced through ACWD, and I'm gonna even take this one step further.

Speaker 2:

Delval is part of the State Water Project. As I mentioned, it's on the South Bay Aqueduct that water comes from the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, and one of the things I wanted to mention is you know again, this is a Fremont podcast, but it's really fun to take day trips, and the one park that I wanted to highlight today is a really excellent day trip is Big Break in Oakley, so it's far from here, but it's a great day trip. It's right on the San Joaquin River so you can go and see the Delta where your drinking water comes from. If you live here in Fremont and there's kayaking, there's an excellent visitor center that talks all about California water and it's a really nice place to maybe go and spend the day.

Speaker 3:

That's great.

Speaker 4:

That's a very, very accessible park as well, for people with all abilities can enjoy the park and the visitor center. Wow, that's great.

Speaker 3:

Are there any other parks in Fremont that we might be missing? I know that we've alluded to or referred to Mission Peak and I know that that's one that is very traveled.

Speaker 4:

We have Quarry Lakes also in Fremont.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a beautiful place.

Speaker 2:

That's co-managed with that ACWD, the Alameda County Water District.

Speaker 3:

That's right. That's right because that's one of the places I ride my bike Also Alameda Creek up to the Quarry Lakes and around there, and I see the water district there all the time, doing different things along that area.

Speaker 2:

So a few things I also want to mention. We have an easy to remember website, ebparksorg so all 73 of our parks. You can access information about visiting the parks as well as the overall park district. I do want to share a few remarks about Mission Peak.

Speaker 3:

I know this is in the news right now here in Fremont. Oh my goodness, devastating the peaker pole got.

Speaker 4:

Wasn't it found though. It was found and I don't know, by the park district.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I don't know if anybody I've not heard what the plan is moving forward with that.

Speaker 2:

So I'll share some talking points. I'm all ears and this might be the first time these talking points are being shared, so this is an exclusive for the.

Speaker 3:

NEMOT. I have been looking for what's gonna happen because it's important. There's so many people I was I don't get. I try not to get mad easily. I was very angered when I saw that somebody had done that, so I'm very eager to hear what the solution or what the approach might be going forward.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I'd love for something to share with me. This following Again me loving my trivia facts you know what is the most Instagram spot in Fremont, and I'm sure this is a candidate.

Speaker 3:

Oh, top one of the top, for sure, for sure.

Speaker 2:

So I can share. You know, at the park district we are so sad about this incident in our park and we have recovered the top half the poll and it is in safekeeping. I can share. We do have our own police department at East Bay Regional Parks District and so our public safety department, our police, are investigating this incident. This is an active investigation right now. We actually they want me to share the phone number if anybody has any information to help us with this investigation. That number is 510-690-6521. And we really hope that if anyone in the community has information they will share about that incident. It's important for us to figure out why this happened, who did it, and so please reach out to that number, 510-690-6521.

Speaker 3:

That'd be great, yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's devastating, I don't know. I mean, I was trying to think about why someone would even want to do something like that, but it just doesn't make sense to me. And I do think it's something that's important. It's something special to Fremont the people that go up there and I actually did an Instagram video the last time I was up there, which happened to be about two weeks before this incident happened and I did an Instagram video about what the pipes were on the pole and letting them know that this was designed for the purpose of drawing people's attention to different features around the Bay Area, whether it's a mountain, mount Diablo, or a city or other natural features around the Bay and it got a lot of traffic. People responded to it. I did not know that that's what it was for, but it's just a shame that that happened and I think, a lot of people. It definitely is iconic.

Speaker 3:

And so to have it vandalized like that is just devastating. So yeah, I hope we can figure out what happened, why it happened and then a way that we can restore at least something to be able to bring it back.

Speaker 2:

So if anyone has any information, please reach out to the East Bay Regional Parks Police Department. In terms of other parks here in Fremont, ardenwood certainly is a very popular park.

Speaker 4:

How could I forget Ardenwood?

Speaker 3:

There's so many events going on there as well All the time. I feel like it's just so busy and it's wonderful. It's like I can't remember what it was that we went to. It was the sheep shearing event, I think, and that was really cool.

Speaker 2:

It is really cool, it is.

Speaker 3:

So many people. I have a video hundreds of people lined up waiting to get in, but it was really cool. And they do demonstrations sheep herding with sheep, dogs, and then they've got making things with wool I don't remember exactly. They have a blacksmith doing the demonstration. This is really cool, very, very cool.

Speaker 2:

And then our other park in Fremont is Vargas Plateau.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, oh, I guess that is considered also in Fremont Certainly there's a lot of conversation about Vargas Plateau, which I'm also gonna mention in December.

Speaker 2:

we do have regular liaison meetings where two members of the East Bay Regional Parks Board obviously I'm one of them- and. Fremont, like I mentioned, around the Civic Center area, is split into two different districts within the East Bay Regional Park Board of Directors, so our current president, dennis Waspie, is the Ward Three. Director and represents the area that Vargas Plateau is in.

Speaker 2:

So we will be at the liaison meeting with City of Fremont, where there is a member of the Fremont City Council as well as Fremont Parks and Recreation Commission that will be in attendance at that meeting, and so that's a really good time for members of the Fremont public to come out to a local meeting to talk about all the different parks that we just mentioned.

Speaker 3:

And any you said that was in December. It'll be in December, early December.

Speaker 2:

But otherwise our East Bay Regional Parks Board of Directors meetings are also open to the public and they are hybrid meetings, and so if you don't want to come to our headquarters in Peralta, oakland, you're welcome to call in via Zoom and offer public comment and participate.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's great. That's great. What are some of the? Is there anything else that we're missing? I mean anything that people need to know about. I know that one thing that we talked about before we started recording was the surprise that everybody that I heard from people that there was a partnership with the library system for the backpacks and all the stuff that comes in the backpack that helps people explore the parks better, and that's really, really cool. So I loved seeing those nice backpacks with the patch on it from the park system and all the equipment that you could have to come out and explore the parks. That was really cool. So if anybody's listening to this episode and you did not listen to the library episode you need to go back and listen to that, because there's a segment in there that talks about the connection that they have with the park system, which I think is really great.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and I believe that's all Alameda County library sites will have this backpack program, yes, where you can, basically similar to a library book, you can also, I guess, rent or take one of these backpacks and it includes a pass into the parks, which includes Coyote Hills, and there might be binoculars in there and some other things that one might like to have while visiting the park, there was a yeah.

Speaker 3:

going back to our bird watching, there was like a bird manual or something.

Speaker 2:

Bird guide yeah, that was cool, which is great because you know, we do have some of our own unique species here in the East Bay.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, that's cool. So I have a question. I asked you this I think I mentioned I was gonna say this but Is there something that people regularly do here at Coyote Hills that you just wish they didn't do, like something they shouldn't be doing? They feel like they have liberty to do whatever they want and you're like I just wish that people would keep this in mind and we would really like it for people not to be doing this, anything like that, or even some of the other parks around the district.

Speaker 4:

I think for me it would be just please stay on the trails and give, as we say, give plants a chance, because there can be some rare species here. There's small little critters you might be stepping on. So, yes, I would just ask the people to please stay on the trails.

Speaker 3:

There's also not just I mean we want to protect the space as well, but there's also, I mean rattlesnakes out there and there's other things that could potentially be dangerous as well.

Speaker 4:

I think we, yeah, we don't see rattlesnake see Coyote Hills as often as other parks but yes, there are snakes and everything here is an important part of the ecosystem so we don't want to hurt anybody or anything.

Speaker 2:

I can share on the board of directors. You know one of the big conversations we're having and actually next week we will be having a workshop on trails and it's really, you know, since the pandemic, we've seen more hikers, more bikers, more people out in the parks, which is great.

Speaker 2:

As I mentioned earlier, being able to take a walk in the park is so good for our mental health and so important to be outside and, you know, on days when the sun's shining, to have, you know, the sun shine on you while you're walking is such an important experience. But what happens? You know? I think our parks are more popular than ever and so we do have some trail user conflicts and we do need to have some conversations about that. You know, do we need to think about adding more bike only trails, for example, and or some hiker only trails, one of the other things that comes up? And actually, while I was on the park advisory committee, we really helped to lead this conversation about dogs on leash versus off leash and, again, thinking about some sensitive habitats when we have very strict rules about dogs.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

It really is to help protect some of our sensitive species so just following those rules about dogs.

Speaker 4:

While some parks will be well allowed dogs off leash, when we have the rule it says to be on leash Right, please follow those rules, yeah, and I think I think we are very, very fortunate in the East Bay Regional Park District that there are so many places that we can bring our dogs. I'm a dog owner and I love that. You know there's so many trails that I can bring my dog, and so I think you know we I feel grateful for that and I totally understand that there's places that are not okay for dogs and you know I'm just very thankful for the ones that are available.

Speaker 3:

Yeah right, that's exactly right. That's good, so I maybe I should have asked this question at the beginning what, what room are we in? We are sitting we are sitting in we're sitting in what we call our wetlands classroom.

Speaker 4:

Okay and so. Yes, it's just we're sitting at a table with there's a lot of cabinets around around the walls that have store all of our educational materials.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you got some like a wasp nest up there and some bones and some the cart of curiosities, the cart of curiosity.

Speaker 4:

I see that on the weekends, when I'm here. Yes, we do use that for programs we have, especially if you have something inside or just outside the visitor center, because it's not really an off-road cart.

Speaker 3:

Okay, so what are the? What are the classes that are taught here? And like, who, who gets to attend those?

Speaker 4:

So we don't, yeah, we. To still call it a classroom is maybe a bit misleading, because we don't tend to have classes in here.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 4:

As they they used to be before the pandemic. I think we even had birthday parties here at one point Okay. And there were classes inside. But we haven't been doing that. Okay, since we we've reopened after the pandemic. It's mostly storage and a meeting space, but we do have. So we have two school programs that we offer here the the Eloni cultures program.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 4:

And wetland wonderers which is more popular in the spring and we we go into the wetlands and collect samples of water and see what's in there, and then on weekends we have just a wide variety of different programs that are led by either myself or by colleague Martha, or even our interpretive student aides that are here and they're mostly college students that work in the visitor centers on weekends and they do programs with some of our animals like a gopher snake, a redder slider turtle or alligator lizard or other other programs that you know they just kind of do on the fly.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome. That's really cool. Well, I think this is great. This would be an inspiring place just to come and hang out. I love what the East Bay Parks offers. I love Coyote Hills, what it offers, and I just hope people two things I hope they can come and take advantage of it, you know, just enjoy the space, but then also respect it and and realize that it's something, that it's a gift to our community. You know, it's something that we can share together in and really help it be a better place for us to live. So I love that.

Speaker 4:

Well, yeah, everyone shares these original parks there for everyone, right?

Speaker 3:

yeah, that's great Guys. Thank you so much for joining me on this. This is awesome. I appreciate your information, the investment that you guys make into the park system and, yeah, thank you very much for being a part of the podcast. Anything, any closing remarks that we need to make?

Speaker 2:

Yes, you know I want to say come visit a park, any park, and if you want to find out more information, ebparksorg, you can read about any one of our 73 parks, and it's really great just to get out and walk. Coyote Hills is a wonderful park for many different types of users. So for those of you in Fremont, if you haven't been here, what have you been doing?

Speaker 3:

That's right. Where do you go? What do you do?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's right I actually hear from a lot of folks that that I meet on the trail that it's like, oh my gosh, I came, I used to come here years ago and I was nothing like this is so much better now. Or the other thing I hear is like, oh, I never knew this was here.

Speaker 3:

Right, so it's hidden gems. So, yes, what is happening? What's the main, the big picture of what's happening as you come in, because there's a lot of construction happening out there?

Speaker 4:

Yes, right at our entrance, near Paseo, padre.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 4:

There's going to be a new entry kiosk, a new parking lot that will hold at least 100 cars, there'll be picnic areas, there will be interpretive signs, restrooms, of course, and there's several new trails that are opening up with overlooks and interpretive signs as well.

Speaker 3:

Nice, I saw there was a lot of trees being planted in one particular area.

Speaker 4:

Yes, there's a major habitat restoration, okay that's awesome.

Speaker 3:

I think that I was at a. I was at one of the meetings that they had when they were talking about that property and it was a very important meeting, and I remember being there and asking some questions, but I don't know that I knew what happened after that, so it's really cool to see a lot of that being developed.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that was land that was donated by the Patterson family.

Speaker 3:

The Patterson family, yeah yeah, descendants that yeah, so it's really wonderful donation. That's cool, very excited about it. That's great. Do we have any idea when we can expect to see that finished or?

Speaker 4:

It's been kind of a moving target, but it should be open early next year, okay awesome, very good.

Speaker 3:

Well, thank you ladies so much, appreciate it so much for joining me on the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Thank you and thank you.

Speaker 3:

Hope to hear more and see more of you guys and the park in the future.

Speaker 1:

Our newsletter and all of our social media links at thefremontpodcastcom. Join us next week on the Fremont podcast.

Speaker 4:

There was a time in California where there was a bounty on Aloni people.

Speaker 3:

This is a Muggins media podcast.

Alameda Creek Watershed
Billy Roy's Burgers and Coffee Shop Café
Biking, Birdwatching, and Wildlife at Coyote Hills
Exploring California's Bay Area Campgrounds
Mission Peak Vandalism and Park Safety
Trail User Conflicts and Park Developments
California's Dark History