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

 

Why do Leaves Change Color in the Fall- the Science behind the color change in Autumn Leaves

As the summer months wind down to an end we begin to feel the onset of fall and the environmental changes that come with it. One of the most noticeable changes, besides the absences of 100 degree weather, is the dramatic color change in the leaves of some trees and shrubs. This change in color may seem mystical, but the science behind it is actually more exciting than that. The story begins with the trees and shrubs involved in color change; not all trees change leaf color nor do they necessarily drop. Trees and shrubs that drop their leaves annually are known as deciduous, and they also undergo a change in leaf color in the fall. Many of the leaves you see turn various shades of red, yellow, orange and even purple. Color and intensity of color change is actually dependent on many environmental factors.

It all starts with the growth cycle of deciduous trees and shrubs where color change in leaves is a response to the growth process. Growth for deciduous trees and shrubs typically subsides by late June in addition to being very sensitive to changes in dark and light cycles as well as temperature variances. In the fall when the night or dark cycle is longer the period of sunlight absorption is significantly less for plants to use in photosynthesis.  When these dark periods reach a particular threshold value that is specific to every plant, and the nights are long enough the cells near the juncture of the leaf and stem begin to divide rapidly but do not expand, these cells form what is called the abscission layer.

The abscission layer creates a blockage in the plant’s transport of life support materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch and nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves. This blockage also prevents the transport of minerals from roots to leaves eventually causing the complete isolation of the leaf from the rest of the plant. Now we take a quick side trip to why leaves are green in the first place, during the growing season plants continuously produce a molecule known as chlorophyll. This molecule is the primary molecule that allows plants to absorb sunlight for the synthesis of carbohydrates and it’s also the reason leaves are green. Chlorophyll is able to absorb sunlight in the red to blue spectrum, but cannot absorb green, this causes a reflection of the green region of the spectrum of light and leaves appear green to us.

There are also other accessory color pigment molecules present in leaves that aid chlorophyll in the absorption and transmission of light. Molecules like xanthophylls and Carotene are such accessory pigments and are responsible for producing yellow and orange colors. Anthocyanins are also produced from the decomposition of trapped sugars and give the pigmentation of reds and purples. Going back to the abscission layer, the leaves are now cut off from the remainder of the plant and it causes the production of chlorophyll in the leaves to slow and eventually cease. The total amount of chlorophyll breaks down and is depleted in a relatively short amount of time and so do its masking effects of green pigmentation in the leaves. With chlorophyll gone the yellow and orange pigments can now be visibly seen. As the leaf is further cut off by the abscission layer trapped sugars remaining in the leaves break down and reds and purples will begin to show through. As for the leaves falling, the abscission layer becomes more and more dry and eventually corky and will cause the connecting cellular tissue to weaken, severing the leaves from the stem. So next time you notice the colorful palate of leaves this fall you can remember that it’s all thanks to the growth cycle of deciduous trees.

 

Skip the Buying Use what you have at Home

Decorations:

  • Turn old stockings with runs in them into spider webs
  • Paint foam packing peanuts green and make a bowl of scary worms
  • Paint cardboard boxes into creepy tombstones
  • Always try to reuse or repurpose decorations from years past
  • Try to buy your pumpkins from local growers or contemplate growing your own pumpkins for next year

Costumes:

  • Keep clothing items that could potentially be used for costumes or parts to a costume
  • Buy costumes or props from thrift and consignment stores
  • Use clean Styrofoam and make a mask
  • Trade costumes from previous years with relatives and friends
  • Use old pillow cases for trick or treat bags, you can decorate them and make them as spooky as you want

Halloween Parties:

  • If you’re having a bash and need cups, plates, or utensils, try to buy biodegradable items or things that have been made from recycled materials
  • When buying foodies or treats for your party try to buy local or products that are produced from sustainable sources like chocolates and sugar items
  • When you’re all done with your jack-o-lanterns don’t throw away your pumpkin just yet, save the seeds and make yourself a tasty treat by roasting the seeds. You can also use the pumpkin meat to make pies and yummy muffins. You can also turn your pumpkin into a nice compost component for your garden

 

The Soboba Tribal Environmental Department would like to wish everyone a wonderful fall season, Happy Halloween, and Happy Thanksgiving!