The secluded meadows of Round Valley Regional Preserve lie just a few miles south of Brentwood, California. In this 15-part audio tour, you’ll learn about the grassland’s history and the rich habitat it provides for golden eagles, kit foxes, and red-legged frogs.
Sponsored by Save Mount Diablo & Thomas J. Long Foundation, 2012. Featuring Seth Adams, Robert Doyle, Scott Hein, and Brian Kruse. Music from Local Joe by Phil Heywood.
Learn about the preserve from local resident Brian Kruse, East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle, naturalist and photographer Scott Hein, and Save Mount Diablo Land Programs director Seth Adams.
Take your pick: you can play in Marsh Creek, try the up-and-down 5-mile-long Hardy Canyon Loop or the easier 6-mile-long Valley Loop. Or you can do all three for a total of 8 miles.
Topics: Three ways to explore: Marsh Creek, Hardy Canyon Loop, Valley Loop; cattle trails, bike rules, horse rules, dog rules. Speakers: Scott Hein, Seth Adams. Sounds: meadowlarks
Named after the county’s first U.S. settler, John Marsh, Marsh Creek is the second longest, least disturbed waterway in the area. Once it had steelhead and sustained mammoth oaks, as described here by 19th century explorer William Brewer.
In the 1980s, Contra Costa County decided that Round Valley was a good place for a garbage dump. How Brian Kruse and Robert Doyle helped bury that plan.
Music: “Zulu Bob” by Phil Heywood. Topics: Cakebread and Foskett Canyons proposed for landfill, birth of Marsh Creek Preservation Association, Jim Murphy and Robert Doyle meet, park district buys an option, Measure AA passes. Speakers: Brian Kruse, Robert Doyle Photo: Jim Murphy, by Bob Walker, Oakland Museum Collection.
You’re about to step into an ocean of grass that supports eagles, hawks, coyotes, and mountain lions.
Music: “Home Range” by Phil Heywood. Topics: Thomas Murphy, farming history, grassland’s wildlife value, long-billed curlews, bluebirds, grazing, solar pumps, wild oats and rye, medusa head. Speakers: Seth Adams, Scott Hein, Robert Doyle. Sounds: cows and meadowlarks. Photos: long-billed curlew, Robert Burton/USFWS
Round Valley Creek sometimes makes a comeback even before rains arrive in the fall.
Speaker: Seth Adams. Topic: why creek can start flowing before first rains. Sounds: meadowlarks and ground squirrels; creek.
Think back to the latter half of the 18th century, when the Spanish first encountered the indigenous people here.
Music: “Lighten Up” by Phil Heywood. Topics: Enclosed meadows, native peoples, Ithuriel’s spear and other “Indian potatoes,” chia, red maids, mortars and pestles. Speakers: Robert Doyle. Sounds: birds in a valley oak. Photos: Round Valley aerial, Bob Walker, Oakland Museum collection; linguistic map East Bay tribal territories, East Bay Regional Park District, source Randall Milliken.
An overnight stay gives you a good chance of seeing wildlife—maybe even the East Bay’s rarest mammal, the San Joaquin kit fox.
Music: “Backwater” by Phil Heywood. Topics: kit foxes, Roger Epperson, building the camp, what it offers. Speakers: Robert Doyle, Seth Adams, Scott Hein. Photos: San Joaquin kit fox (first 3), B. “Moose” Peterson/USFWS.
Where the canyon narrows, you’ll see wild rose bushes and life-giving water, even in the dry season.
While the preserve’s popularity is growing, its sights and sounds haven’t changed much since the days of rancher Jim Murphy.
Music: “Local Joe” by Phil Heywood. Topics: acquiring pieces of the park, staging area leased from Cowell Foundation, fast track to find defenders, other threats nearby, Brian Kruse on recent changes. Speakers: Seth Adams, Brian Kruse. Photo: aerial of valley, Bob Walker, Oakland Museum collection.