Botanical history is the theme of a nature program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

The group will check out the natural and manmade landscapes at the old Somersville town site, where miners brought in non-native trees to shade their dwellings. The program is for ages 7 and older. Rain cancels. Naturalist Eddie Willis will lead a program at Black Diamond Mines from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday. It's a steep hike through the chaparral to see how the plants weather winter. The walk is for ages 8 and older. Both programs are free. Both meet at the parking lot at the upper end of Somersville Road, 5 miles south of Highway 4. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

BIG BREAK: You can figure out which animals have been around without actually seeing them. Naturalists at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley will show you how in a session from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. The group will check out impressions in the dirt, examine chewed branches, and listen for bird calls, among other clues. Big Break is located on Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

MLK DAY event: The East Bay Regional Park District is organizing its sixth annual Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision of a prejudice-free society. It will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline on San Leandro Bay in Oakland.


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Volunteers will assist park district staff in wildlife habitat restoration and trash removal. Work will also include restoration of the park's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Grove. Children are welcome to participate, but those under 16 must be accompanied by one adult chaperon for every 20 kids.

Volunteers are advised to wear comfortable, weather appropriate clothing and closed-toed shoes. Work gloves would be a good idea, too. To cut down on the use of plastic, organizers recommend bringing a refillable water bottle and a bucket to pick up litter. For more information, call 510-544-2590. Early rainfall will cancel the event.

Parking will be available at the Oakport Athletic Field lot near 66th Street in Oakland. Registration is required. You can register groups of up to 100 people online or by calling 888-327-2757 and selecting option 2. For more information, or to register online, visit www.ebparks.org/MLKDay2014.

As a prelude to the service day, naturalist Francis Mendoza will host a nature journaling session at the park from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday. Meet Francis at the Arrowhead Marsh observation tower off Swan Way in Oakland to make nature journals of your observations and thoughts. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Francis will also lead a stroll at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline as part of the Hikes for Tykes series. Scheduled from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, it's a walk of about a mile, designed for young children accompanied by a parent, to explore the park's plant and animal life. Strollers are not recommended. Meet at the Arrowhead Marsh observation tower. For information, call 510-544-3187.

CRAB COVE: Up the shoreline at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, a history walk is planned for the Family Fun Nature Hours from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The area around Crab Cove was once the site of a large amusement park, then later saw service as a Merchant Marine officer training academy. And Crab Cove hosts story time and nature fun for kids from 11 to 11:30 a.m. every Sunday in January and February, featuring characters that include the Lorax, hermit crabs and Swimmy the Fish. The programs are all free. Crab Cove is located at 1252 McKay Avenue. For more information, call 510-544-3187.

HUMP-DAY HIKERS: The Wednesday Walkers, an informal and intrepid hiking group led by naturalist Chris Garcia, will take on Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont during a stroll on Wednesday. Everyone's welcome.

Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the park entrance on Isherwood Way/Quarry Lakes Drive. Though the Wednesday Walks are sometimes strenuous, this one is an easy 4 miles on mostly flat, graveled paths with an ascent to a 61-foot summit along the way. The ascent helps to fulfill the Wednesday Walkers' goal of reaching the high point in every park they visit in 2014. For information, call 510-544-3282 or email cgarcia@ebparks.org.

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