Park It: Omicron sends East Bay Fungus, Youth Job fairs online this year – East Bay Times

The Environmental Education Center at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley has hosted a Fungus Fair annually for the past five years.

However, due to concerns about COVID-19’s omicron variant, this year’s fair will be virtual. It will be livestreamed on the Nature Area’s Facebook page and on YouTube channels from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 29-30. The virtual event will feature presentations from local mycologists, the 2022 Bay Area MycoBlitz program (, a cooking demonstration and other attractions. No registration is required.
This is also a good time to point out that mushroom gathering is against the rules in all the regional parks. The parks are essentially wildlife preserves, where plants and animals must be left alone. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” is the mantra.
Aside from being illegal in the parks, mushroom collecting can be dangerous unless you’re really knowledgeable. Several mushroom varieties are extremely poisonous, though they may resemble other kinds that are edible. So it’s best to leave harvesting to the experts and to where it’s permitted and do your own mushroom hunting at the supermarket.
Youth Job Fair: Also virtual this year is the East Bay Regional Park District’s Youth Job Fair from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 29. Designed for applicants ages 15 through 24, it’s an opportunity to learn about the variety of paid summer and year-round jobs available at the regional parks, whether you like spending time outdoors, working with kids or lifeguarding at district swim beaches. For registration and information, visit
Antioch: History buffs will enjoy a stroll through the site of the long-vanished town of Somersville at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, led by naturalist Ashley Adams from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Ashley will use historic photos and maps to bring the town site back to life. It was once one of the most populous settlements in Contra Costa County, home to hundreds of miners who worked the coalfields.
The history stroll is free of charge, though Antioch’s Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. All ages are welcome, but registration is required. For information and registration, call 888-327-2757, option 2.
Also in Antioch: Nearby at Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch, naturalist Kevin Dixon will anticipate Groundhog Day by leading a leisurely stroll around the reservoir from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 23 in search of ground squirrels and wintering birds.
The stroll is free, all ages are welcome, but registration is required. Contra Loma is at the end of Frederickson Lane off Gold Course Road. Meet Kevin at the main parking lot. There’s a $5 parking fee. For registration and more information, call 888-327-2757.
Sunol: Down at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, “Nature’s Stories” is the theme of a drop-in program from 10 to 11 a.m. Jan. 23. At the visitor center, naturalist Betty Villalta will read from a nature-themed storybook, then lead an activity or craft.
The program is free of charge and registration is not necessary. Sunol Regional Wilderness is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road, about 5 miles south of Interstate 680 and the town of Sunol. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3245.
Online: This is just a sample of what’s available in the park district. For full information, visit the district’s website at
Ned MacKay writes about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at
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