There's a new feature worth checking out at the Big Break Visitor Center in Oakley -- a 28-by-8-foot mural depicting Delta land and water plants and animals.

River otters, pelicans, a heron, Chinook salmon, bass, bluegill and other species all crowd the canvas, giving park visitors an idea of the diversity that characterizes California's vital waterway.

The mural was painted by artist Ali Pearson and her assistant, Bridget Keimel, both of Alumni Exhibits in Sebastopol. In preparation for their work, the two took kayak trips from Big Break to see the habitat for themselves. Then they worked in their Sebastopol fabrication shop for 10 weeks to complete the project. Regional park district staff helped with the installation.

Pearson grew up in a family of professional biologists, including her father, Oliver Pearson, who was a professor of invertebrate zoology at UC Berkeley. She has worked in the fabrication field for 20 years, creating exhibits for Yosemite National Park, Point Reyes and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum among other venues.

Big Break Visitor Center is on Big Break Road off Highway 4 in Oakley. Center hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For information, call 510-544-3050.

St. pAT'S HIKE: A less strenuous St. Patrick's Day walk is on the calendar for 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland. It's a free walk on the San Francisco Bay Trail to learn about plants that subsist on salt water. Wearing of the green is encouraged.


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Meet at the Arrowhead Marsh staging area, which is at the end of a road leading into the park from Swan Way. For more information, call 510-544-3187.

CHABOT WALK: On the vernal equinox Wednesday, the Wednesday Walkers will explore the northeast side of Lake Chabot on a somewhat strenuous 5-mile loop. Wednesday Walkers are an informal hiking group led by park district naturalists, and everyone is welcome.

For the Lake Chabot hike, meet at the Marcial Gate entrance to Anthony Chabot Regional Park on Redwood Road. Marcial Gate is about 5 miles south of the Redwood Road and Skyline Boulevard intersection in Oakland. For information, call 510-544-3282.

AT TILDEN: Photography and poetry by the late Alvin Nathan Hadad are on display through April 28 at Tilden Regional Park's Environmental Education Center in Berkeley. There will be a reception from 3 to 4:30 p.m. April 7 at the center, during which you can meet other fans of Hadad and walk to Jewel Lake for photography and haiku. Center hours are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. The center is located at the north end of Tilden's Central Park Drive. For more information, call 510-544-2233.

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