Live Green in 2017 ◆ By Mike Hiles
More than 300 guests attended the 11th annual Soboba Tribal Earth Day celebration on April 20 at the grounds of the Soboba Sports Complex. With nearly 30 vendors, guests learned different ways to "Live Green in 2017," the theme of this year's event.
Environmental Manager Steven Estrada, who oversees the tribal environmental department, works closely with those in his department to make sure there is plenty of fun and education for all ages. He was joined by Environmental Specialist Jennifer Salazar and Environmental Assistant Charlotte Golden.
"We don't get too many questions during the event but many visitors are interested in the literature and educational materials we provide," Estrada said. "Our themes always push for environmental awareness and education."
Brochures on recycling 101 and healthy eating and exercise offered great advice for families and another vendor offered guests a chance to make or try "Chia Gruel." By mixing the seeds with honey, nuts, berrries and other seeds, it offers a healthy, energy-boosting snack because of the seeds' great health benefits. Chia seeds have more calcium than dairy products, are a great source of protein, are high in antioxidants, naturally boost energy and improve memory and mood, are high in fiber, lowers risk of heart disease and helps to combat type 2 diabetes.
Estrada said he asks vendors to conduct an environmentally related activity, if they can. The Soboba Foundation and environmental departments from Santa Rosa, Cahuilla, Pechanga, Morongo set up booths and conservation agencies such as the Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society and Inland Water Keepers offered lots of timely handouts.
Soboba Tribal Preschool staff provided coloring activities and reading materials on related subjects. Family members were encourged to join their children as they took part in the various crafts and program.
"There has always been an effort for conservation at Soboba. Specifically in regards to Indian Canyon and the efforts of the cultural department," Estrada said. "I think having one day dedicated to discussing these types of things in a fun way helps get the message out."
The event has outgrown it's prior location near the Old Tribal Hall and Estrada said he liked the more open layout provided at the Soboba Sport Complex outdoor area.
Soboba's Tribal Environmental Department keeps busy all year long with its mission statement to be committed to protecting, restoring, and enhancing natural resources on the Soboba Reservation for all tribal members past, present and future.
The 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. Members provide community outreach and education efforts such as 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," Estrada said.
The Arbor Day Foundation separates the United States into Plant Hardiness Zones that determine which plants are best to grow within a zone based on its temperatures. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, San Jacinto and Hemet fall under Zones 8 and 9. If you're looking to start a garden or replace the plants you lost through the winter months, the following is a list of plants that are best planted during springtime in the 8 and 9 zones: pansy, lilac, grape hyacinth, daffodil, bluestar, oakleaf hydrangea, acoma iris, bloodroot, yello trillium and grand maitre cocus.
An easy way to begin learning about the environment around you is to visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency website and use the MyEnvironment link.
Estrada is now focusing his attention on the Earth Day Celebration at Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians in Mountain Center on May 6, which is open to the public. As tribal chairman, he wants to make sure the important messages of conservation and preservation continue.
"We will be providing educational information on water quality and solid waste," he said.