Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch will begin its 2013 mine tour season with a free open house at the underground mining museum from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2.

Visitors will be able to explore about 1,000 feet of restored workings in the former Hazel-Atlas silica sand mine, with park staff posted along the way to point out interesting features.

For safety reasons, the self-guided tours are restricted to ages 7 and older. For younger children, there's a chamber just inside the mine entrance with displays and activities related to the park's mining history.

After open house day, 90-minute guided mine tours will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays through November. Advanced reservation tours are scheduled at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends. A 10 a.m. tour is available to groups of 10 or more. First-come, first-served tours are at noon and 3 p.m.

Again, participants must be 7 or older. Tour tickets cost $5 per person. Reservations can be made online at www.ebparks.org, or at the park office. For the 10 a.m. group tours, though, call 888-327-2757, option 2.

Another way to see the mines is the underground Greathouse Visitor Center, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends through November. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. The center contains artifacts and photos from the park's coal and silica mining days.

Above ground, naturalist Eddie Willis will lead a safari to see amphibian denizens of Black Diamond Mines' stock ponds. It's from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, March 3, and will take place rain or shine. Meet Eddie in the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, five miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch.

And naturalist Bob Kanagaki will host a program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 9, about the park's mining boom times, featuring a slideshow and a look at the mine.

The program is restricted to ages 7 and older. It's free, but registration is required. For registration and information, call 888-327-2757, option 2, and refer to program number 1441.

Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. For general information about the park, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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    Although it's a bit chilly for a swim right now, that won't last. So the East Bay Regional Park District is recruiting lifeguards for the 2013 swim season.

    It's a good job. Hourly wages are from $13.78 to $21.06, a bit more for instructors.

    Applicants must be at least 16 years old by April 27. They must be able to swim 550 yards in less than 10 minutes. Swim areas that are staffed with lifeguards are located at Contra Loma in Antioch; Castle Rock in Walnut Creek; Lake Anza at Tilden Park in Berkeley; Lake Temescal and Roberts pool, both in Oakland; Cull Canyon in Castro Valley; Don Castro Park in Hayward; Quarry Lakes in Fremont; Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton; and Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore.

    Applications may be obtained online at the park district website at www.ebparks.org. Or they can be requested from the district's human resources department by calling 510-544-2154. Deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, March 15.

    For more information, call Pete DeQuincy at 510-690-6622 or Dan McCormick at 510-690-6620.

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    Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline in Pt. Richmond has a history as a rail and ferry terminus. Naturalist "Trail Gail" Broesder will lead a "Ferries and Freight" exploration of the park from shoreline to hills from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3, for ages 9 and older. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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    There are lots of programs scheduled in coming days at the Environmental Education Center in Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley.

    For instance, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, naturalist James Wilson will host a "greenhouse giveaway," talking about how plants progress from seed to dinner plate.

    Then from 3 to 4 p.m., James will supervise planting of the "three sisters" in the Kids' Garden: corn, beans and squash.

    On Monday, March 4, naturalist Anthony Fisher will lead a bird walk from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to the top of Tilden's Wildcat Peak. It's a five-miler, starting at the center.

    James has scheduled Tilden Tots programs at the center from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, and Thursday, April 4. These are outdoor adventure programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, each accompanied by an adult. No younger siblings, please.

    Registration is required, and there's a fee of $6 per child ($8 for nondistrict residents). For more information on the Tilden Tots program, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2.

    Contact Ned MacKay at nedmackay@comcast.net. James also has a Tilden Little Farmers program for kids 5-7 accompanied by an adult. No younger siblings, please. These are from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, and Tuesday, April 9. Registration is required, and fees are the same as those for Tilden Tots.

    For more information on the Tilden Tots or Little Farmers programs, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2.

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    Another kids' program series is Hikes For Tykes, led by naturalist Sara Fetterly. Designed for young children with a parent, these hikes are about a mile in length. There's one from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.

    Bring a snack and meet at the park entrance on Skyline Boulevard just south of the intersection with Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the Oakland hills. For information, call 510-544-3187.

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    Beginning and experienced birders alike will enjoy a bird walk from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, led by naturalist Kristina Parkison.

    The bird walk is free, designed for ages 8 and older, and registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 1466.

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    Outdoor Discoveries is another nature program designed for children 3-5, accompanied by a parent. Naturalists Katie Colbert and Cat Taylor preside.

    There's a program with a geology theme from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, March 7, at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore. The fee is $6 per child ($8 for nondistrict residents) and registration is required.

    Call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program 1673.

    Ned MacKay writes about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.

    Contact Ned MacKay at nedmackay@comcast.net.