Mission Statement

The Soboba Tribal Environmental Department is committed to protecting, restoring, and enhancing natural resources on the Soboba Reservation for all tribal members past, present, and future.

 

What We Do

The Environmental Department works to raise awareness of all aspects of the environment. This includes solid waste issues, pollution prevention, water and air quality, conservation measures, household hazardous waste disposal, and many other areas. In addition to community outreach and education efforts such as participating in community events, the department also hosts an annual Tribal Earth Day event and community clean up days. We also conduct surface water quality testing on streams running through the reservation, collect and manage geographical data, and create programs to address environmental concerns.

An easy way to begin learning about the environment around you is to visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency website and use MyEnvironment

 

Winter is finally here, and with the chill in the air comes the holiday season. With all the festivities this time of year brings it gives us the opportunity to put our greenest foot forward and make this season a more eco-friendly one. Here are some great holiday ideas that could make your Christmas a little greener.

 

 

1. Use LED Lights: LED bulbs use 80% less energy and last 10 times longer than the typical incandescent bulb. When picking out Christmas lights this year look for the energy star seal for the highest energy efficiency rating.

2. Energy Wise: Turn on Christmas trees and décor on only when you’re in the room to enjoy them, and try using timers for outdoor lighting efficiency.

3. Give Green Gifts: Consider giving eco-friendly or home-made gifts to friends and family this year. Some green gift ideas include: energy saving items, books on living green, gift cards to health food and organic stores, handmade ornaments, baked goods, and paintings.

4. Send Electronic Holiday Cards: Instead of mailing them out this year try creating digital cards that can be emailed to all your friends and family. Choosing to email your cards this year cuts down on paper waste and even reduces your carbon foot print by helping eliminate fuel used in transporting standard mail.

5. Eco-friendly Wrapping: You can start by buying wrap made from recycled materials or making your own from clothes or other material. Save all boxes and bags so that they can be reused next year and if discarding wrapping material always seek the opportunity to recycle it.

6. Green Christmas tree: But aren’t Christmas trees already green? This year make them greener by buying yours locally to reduce transport carbon foot prints or even better, buy organic and local.

The holiday season is filled with nostalgia, things that hallmark the green and red hues of this time of year. Christmas trees, twinkling lights, presents, and one familiar friend that oodles of us may not know too much about; the Poinsettia. Let’s take a moment to get to know a little bit more about these holiday favorites.

 

The Poinsettia

Poinsettias are a part of big family of over 7,500 species of flowering plants known as the Euphoribaceae or spurge family. This family, including poinsettias, are native to many parts around the world including tropical regions. The poinsettias story as we know it began when a botanist, physician, and first ambassador to Mexico Joel Roberts Poinsett, introduced them to the U.S. from Mexico for the first time in 1828. The plant became such an ornamental success that it eventually received its own day, Poinsettia Day every December 12th which also marks the day of Mr. Poinsett’s death in 1851.

The family of Euphoribaceae, including the poinsettia contains a large number of phytotoxins (toxins produced by plants) in the form of a rich milky latex sap. This sap is actually a source of natural rubber but can also cause allergic reactions in people who suffer from latex allergies. This allergic reaction can also be common in children and pets and is the reason behind the myth that poinsettias are toxic and are lethal to eat. While it would take an extremely large amount to experience symptoms above diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea it is best to keep all pets and children away from consuming any part of this plant.

So here comes the really interesting part, we all think of poinsettias as the big red flower mascot of Christmas, but what if the big red flowers we love so much weren’t really flowers at all? Yes it’s true, the red portions of the poinsettia we all thought were the flowers or petals of this plant are actually modified leaves known as bracts. The poinsettias true flowers are the tiny little yellow to green flowers in the centers of the whorl of red bracts. These modified leaves evolved to produce a bright vibrant color in order to attract pollinators to assist in its most important ecological function of dispersing pollen and reproducing.

So why do these modified leaves change their color from the typical green to red, and how do they know how and when to do it? It all begins with a spectacular process called photoperiodism which refers to a flowering plants response to changes in the photoperiod, or simply put how plant development responds to the relative lengths of day and night. As winter and fall begin we notice that days become shorter and the nights get longer due to the orbit and angle of the earth during this time of the year, well the plants who depend on sunlight to manufacture food and survive are very sensitive to changes in dark and light cycles. The changes in this cycle typically the initiate the process of photoperiodism.

But hold on, let’s back up and go over some features that plants like our poinsettias have that play a key role in photoperiodism. Poinsettias and other plants have molecules in their leaves called phytochromes which are leaf pigments that the plant uses to detect periods of light and dark. Phytochromes exist in 2 forms an active form and an inactive form. The inactive form designated Pr can become activated if it absorbs red light at about 660 nanometers. The active phytochrome designated Pfr overtime breaks down and becomes inactive from either absorbing far red light at around 725 nanometers or in the absence of light. Since sunlight contains more red light than moonlight the active form is most abundant during the day and the inactive form more abundant at night.

The active phytochrome Pfr is the phytochrome that affects flowering so keeping that in our back pocket we look at one more concept of short versus long day plants. Poinsettias are short day plants and what that means is that short day plants are actually inhibited from flowering by the active phytochrome Pfr. So if the active form Pfr prevents them from flowering, it would require lower levels of Pfr to start flowering. So when the days become shorter like in the winter poinsettias are not exposed to as much sunlight and that right amount of night allows them to accumulate the lower level of active phytochromes which induces its flowering process including the change in color from green to red in the modified leafs. Wow, that was probably a little more about poinsettias than you wanted to know, but now you have a great story to tell your friends and loved ones this holiday season, and next time you see that jolly red poinsettia you’ll know just what makes them so unique.

 

The Soboba Tribal Department would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays this year and a Happy New Year. This year has been such a success for the department and we thank all the tribal members and colleagues who have made that possible. The Environmental Department looks forward to another great year in 2018, and remember to watch out for our annual Soboba Tribal Earth Day and Community Clean-up.