The rich history of Reinhardt Redwood Park | Notes on the Valley | Monith Ilavarasan | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

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By Monith Ilavarasan

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About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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The rich history of Reinhardt Redwood Park

Uploaded: Apr 26, 2023
The beautiful weather over the past week finally managed to pull me out of a cold funk. This winter was so long there were moments that I thought I would never be warm again. My soft California body wasn’t built to deal with perpetual forty five degree weather.

My partner and I celebrated this monumental shift by first putting on shorts. After shedding tears of joy we figured the next logical step would be to go on a hike. This Saturday we visited Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park and took a trail we’ve never taken before.

This regional park is one of my favorite ones in the Bay Area. Its founding and namesake also has a rich and interesting history.

The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including wildflowers, ferns, and a variety of bird species. It contains numerous hiking trails, which range from easy strolls to challenging treks. These heavily shaded paths offer folks the opportunity to explore the park's natural wonders and choose their own adventure.

The park's main attraction is the majestic redwood trees, which can grow up to 350 feet tall and have a lifespan of over 2,000 years. The park's lush forests, ancient towering trees, and diverse wildlife serve as a testament to the resilience and beauty of nature.

This 2,000 acre forest was re-named after Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt in 2019. Reinhardt was a renowned botanist and conservationist who played a pivotal role in preserving the park's precious redwood trees.

In the early 20th century the region was heavily logged and the redwoods were being cut down at an alarming rate. It was then that Aurelia Reinhardt, a professor of botany at Mills College in Oakland, began to take an interest in the redwoods and the need to protect them.

Reinhardt, who was a passionate advocate for environmental conservation, started a campaign to preserve the redwood forests in the Bay Area. She believed that these trees were not just a valuable natural resource but also an integral part of California's identity and history.

Reinhardt's efforts led to the creation of the East Bay Regional Park District in 1934, which aimed to protect the region's natural resources and make them accessible to the public.

According to the EB Parks website she was one of five original board members – and the only woman – elected to represent the newly-founded Park District on its first Board of Directors.

The Redwood Regional Park was one of the first parks to be established under this new district, and it quickly became a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. During her tenure, the Park District negotiated its first land purchase, which created three additional parks: Tilden, Temescal, and Sibley parks.

Bay Nature magazine relayed a speech she delivered at a redwood grove dedication ceremony in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in 1934

“Shall we not dedicate ourselves to an understanding, to an appreciation of the life-giving qualities of the earth, our mother, and to a consecration of ourselves never to abuse, never to destroy, never to make barren, the fertile fields of our planet, Earth? Rather shall we respect and preserve, saving for our children and our children’s children the largesse of nature whose fruition man may destroy, but the secret of whose life is not yet in his childish hand.”

Aurelia Reinhardt’s words ring as true today as they did back then. If you can, take advantage of this amazing time to explore and appreciate the wonderful parks accessible in the East Bay.
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