Soboba's Environmental Department supports residents ◆ By Mike Hiles
Many people think of spring as a time to clear out the old and bring in the new. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians' Environmental Department team helped those who didn't finish the job by hosting a Community Cleanup Event this summer.
For five hours on July 24, residents could take large items such as old furniture or appliances, hazardous waste such as solvents and paint and electronic waste to a designated dumping area near the Soboba Sports Complex to dispose of unwanted items.
The annual event, which has been offered for several years, was a win-win as residents got to clean out garages and yards and the environmental department got to make sure items were disposed of properly.
Environmental Manager Steven Estrada said more than four tons of solid waste was collected as well as several appliances and about 20 tires. All four 40-yard bins were filled by the end of the day.
The event was held at the prescribed dumping area of approximately 1.25 acres that is used for trash disposal year-round with one bin that is provided by the tribe. The area is for trash only and not for any hazardous waste, tires, e-waste or batteries. Those restrictions, combined with the fact some residents had bulky items or just a lot of things they wanted to remove from their properties, made the clean-up day very beneficial.
Thirteen Soboba TANF youth turned out to help and received community service hours that are required for high school graduation and as part of the AVID program.
"If we don't keep trash cleaned up, it will sit on the ground and get into our water system and contaminate everything," said Tishmanim Rhodes, 13, of Soboba.
Soboba Public Works Department helped out by transporting unwanted items from elders' homes to the collection site and using their heavy equipment to load large items into the dumpsters.
"We also cleaned up an area along Poppet Creek where green waste such as tree branches and mulch had been dumped," Estrada said. 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, per its mission statement.
"Open dumping has declined and not just because of the Community Cleanup events but because of the awareness of Tribal members and outreach that the department provides," Estrada said.
The Soboba Environmental Department also hosts an annual Earth Day celebration in the spring and it is always well attended by the community. The majority of the department's funding comes from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
"We have various projects for our grant throughout the year," Estrada said. "We are currently wrapping up a Tribal Environmental Plan and solid waste inventory."
The department's website offers seasonal tips and helpful resources for those who want to go green and reduce their carbon footprint. For more information, please visit http://epa.soboba-nsn.gov/