Former Congressman Writes in to Protect Parks

Former Congressman Writes in to Protect Parks

As we shelter in place, we must remember we are not alone. It takes all doing their part to continue forward in these trying times. We must support, however we can, those on the front line of this global pandemic: health care providers, first responders and scientists. We must also be kind to one another and grateful to our neighbors and friends. It is especially important to recognize and express gratitude to those who cannot do their work remotely and are providing services critical to the health and safety of our communities. 

The Bay Area is blessed with great parks and open space. The East Bay is doubly blessed with our great East Bay Regional Park System, the largest urban regional park system in the world. As the former Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a lifelong environmentalist, I have deep respect for the healing power of the great outdoors. I have hiked and camped in the Alhambra and Reliez Valleys, what is now Briones Regional Park, since I was 8 years old.  

Today, for many of us a daily walk or jog in a park serves as a short moment of respite before returning to the shelter in which we have now spent three weeks.  However, few may realize all that makes this walk possible. Thanks to public support and investments, our parks exist. Thanks to park rangers, trades professionals, public safety and others, they largely remain open at this time for our enjoyment. 

My friends at the East Bay Regional Park District, who are thankful to communities for doing their part to help keep the parks safe and open, have shared these basic directions: 

  • Keep a safe six-foot distance from other visitors and park staff during your visit 
  • Pack water or use the restroom before coming to a park as many facilities are closed for the safety of visitors and park staff 
  • Do not leave trash behind —pack it in and pack it out 
  • Walk or hike nearby your home, at a local greenspace or around your neighborhood 
  • Avoid congregating in groups, gatherings or picnics. 
  • Keep dogs on leash 

This is an unprecedented time for parks’ popularity and over-crowding.  From coast to coast — local, regional, state and national parks have all seen a tremendous surge in visits. If each of us continues to do our part to keep our parks and environment clean and safe, we will be investing in a better future for all of us.  

We are in this together. Please be responsible when visiting our parks and trails. If you bring your dog with you, for the safety of other visitors and park employees, please “Pick Up The Poop.” Have fun! 


George Miller, Member of Congress, Ret., lives in Martinez. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 2015.