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East Bay Regional Park District's Big Break Regional Shoreline Park

East Bay Regional Park District's Big Break Regional Shoreline Park is just one of the locations that the Delta Science Center
hopes to utilize in the 2012-13 school year for Delta Shoreline Tours for elementary schools. This park will have the added
benefit of having a science lab in the new Big Break Visitor Center on the Delta building. 

Big Break Regional Shoreline Park and Big Break Visitor Center At The Delta

The park is located at 69 Big Break Road, Oakley, CA 94561
Telephone: (510) 544-3050

When the Delta Science Center committee first started planning in 1995 the idea was wrapped around finding a location along the shoreline where visitors can experience the ecology of the Delta first-hand. Over the years many locations and partnerships were discussed. By the early 2000s the East Bay Regional Park District began working on a site that would allow the Delta Science Center committee a place to offer science related programs. 

EB Parks added the Delta Science Center to a bond they were bringing to the voters. This was great news to the committee as their plans would have a home in Oakley (located in East Contra Costa County) right on the shoreline of Big Break. The bond measure passed and plans for building commenced. The location is now called Big Break Regional Shoreline Park.

The most important feature of the park is that it is located right on the water's edge. There are few places in Contra Costa County where people have the chance to explore the shorelines of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta without a boat or access to one of the many islands. 

The first project completed on the Big Break Regional Shoreline was a pier where people can walk out over the water, enjoy the view and even do a little fishing. 

The next step took several years to complete but soon the Delta Discovery Area was built. 

The Delta Discovery Area
The Delta Discovery Area is located right on the edge of the shoreline and features seating area for approximately 150 students. The seating faces the San Joaquin River and offers a fabulous view of Big Break. 

The prime location for a lecture area features a podium that has room for an overhead display. There are also lights available so that evening events can take place at the site. 

Another nice feature is a fire pit set up that can be used during the cool evenings on the Delta.

The area is covered to keep students cool and shielded from the hot sun.

A small picnic area offers seating for smaller groups who want to enjoy a short hike at the park and a quick bag lunch. 

During the summer it isn't uncommon to see a family enjoying the benches with a picnic lunch.

Other features include a shaded sitting area, restrooms and a kayak launch site.


Delta Regional Map
Perhaps the most exciting feature in the Delta Discovery Area is the map that has been embedded in the walkway. 

Designed and built by Scientific Art Studio out of Richmond, California, the map features a 3-D Mount Diablo and all the waterways that run down the mountain through the flowing rivers of the Delta. 

The map features locations of the local rivers that make up the Delta region as well as many of the islands within the area. 

The map also features tiles with satellite pictures of the larger surrounding cities of the Delta region. 

This is a big help when describing the features of the Delta to students who come to visit the park. As with all East Bay Regional Parks District's programs the park is open from sunrise to sunset. There are programs available during the weekends. Check out the park display board for more information.

Big Break Visitor Center at the Delta 
This 5,000 square feet building features a display area that soon will feature multimedia displays depicting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta past and present, a science room where students can come and do science experiments on the Delta and a community conference room. Currently the building is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am - 4 pm, however in other times if the EB Parks staff are around just knock on the window and they would be glad to show you around. At this time EB Parks and community members are working on planning the inside of the building, hopefully the displays will be complete during 2014. 

Natural Environment at Big Break Regional Shoreline
From the EB Parks website:
"Big Break is home to 70 species of birds and several species of mammals. Twenty-seven special-status wildlife species have the potential to occur within the parkland; six special-status wildlife species are known to occur. Nesting is confirmed or suspected for black rails, northern harriers, white-tailed kites, and yellow-breasted chats. Many wading birds, including great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, green herons and white-faced ibis, forage in the tidal sloughs and freshwater marshes. These areas also provide habitat for Western pond turtles, a California Species of Special Concern. Big Break is suitable breeding habitat for turtles, and females can lay their eggs in the sandy banks and well-drained upland soils. The tidal sloughs, freshwater marsh, and riparian areas also provide valuable habitat for beavers, muskrats, and river otters, which forage and potentially den at Big Break."

Photos by the Delta Science Center committee