Although keeping public parks and open spaces clean is always a good idea, the East Bay Regional Park District and other public agencies make a statewide, organized effort to do so once a year.

From 8:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 21, park district staff and volunteers will pick up litter and recyclables from shoreline parks, lakes and creeks in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It's sometimes amazing to note the quantity of stuff that accumulates in the district's parks. In 2012, 4,000 volunteers picked up 35,749 pounds of trash and 6,635 pounds of recycling in shoreline parks from Martinez to Fremont.

The volunteer day is for ages 6 and older, and registration is required. For registration and information, visit www.ebparksonline.org or call 888-327-2757 and select option 2. Parking and entrance fees are waived for volunteers that day.

FAIRY TALES: There probably aren't any fairies at the bottom of your garden, but there may be some in the Tilden Nature Area in the Berkeley hills, or at least some fairy lore.


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Fairies, gnomes and lake monsters will come to life from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 15 in a program led by naturalist James Wilson and naturalist aide Morgan Evans. It's a short hike and a puppet show illustrating tales inspired by nature. The program is free. Meet at Tilden's Environmental Education Center at the north end of Central Park Drive. Then from 2 to 3:30 p.m. the same day, Wilson will give a talk at the center about how to collect and store seeds for your next year's garden. The seed talk is for ages 5 and older. For details on either program, call 510-544-2233.

FALL HIKE: Naturalist "Trail Gail" Broesder will lead a "Welcome to Autumn" hike from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at Briones Regional Park in Martinez. There's no charge. Bring hiking shoes and a snack to share, and meet at the Alhambra Creek staging area off Reliez Valley Road. The hike is designed for ages 14 and older. For information, call 510-544-2233.

BLACK DIAMOND: Rose Hill Cemetery and the history enshrined there will be the theme of a free program from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 14 and again Sept. 15 at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. The park's naturalist staff will talk about the lives and deaths of the people buried there. Both programs are designed for ages 6 and older.

For the Saturday program, meet at the cemetery, which is a 15-minute walk up the hill from the parking lot at the south end of Somersville Road. For the Sunday program, meet at the parking lot itself. Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the entrance kiosk is attended.

discover the delta: At Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, there's a "Delta Discoveries" program from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday and from 2 to 3 p.m. every Sunday in September and October.

The programs all explore the natural history of Big Break and the Delta through games and other activities. The park is located at 69 Big Break Road in Oakley. For weekly topics, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050. Big Break also has scheduled a series of 30-minute discussion sessions on the myriad issues concerning the Delta and its significance for all who live on it or use its resources. Delta smelt, water tunnels and land subsidence will be among the topics.

The sessions will be from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Sept. 28, Oct. 5 and Oct. 19; from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 14 and Sept. 21 and Oct. 12.; and from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 and Oct. 16. All are free of charge, but registration is required. For registration and information, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2.

TAKE A KID: Outdoor Discoveries is a naturalist-led program series for children ages 3 through 6 accompanied by a parent.

There's a program Sept. 19 at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon featuring a sort of jigsaw puzzle using cow bones. Registration is required, and there's a fee of $6 per child ($8 for nondistrict residents). For registration and information, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program number 3621 for Las Trampas. For general information about Outdoor Discoveries, call 510-544-3249.

NIGHTTIME HIKE: At Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton, naturalist Cat Taylor plans a free nocturnal hike from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. Sept. 18. Bring one flashlight per person, and meet at the water slides parking lot off Stanley Boulevard. For information call 888-327-2757, ext. 3249.

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