Pala Environmental Department News California

Energy-Saving Light

We all take the light in our homes for granted, until a bulb burns out! Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs (the kind with a filament) will last around 1200 hours. That seems like a pretty long time… until you learn that compact florescent (CFL) bulbs can last up to 10,000 hours and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can last a whopping 50,000 hours! LED and CFL bulbs are more expensive up front, but because they last so long, they save you money in the long run. Even better, CFLs and LEDs are better for the environment because they use less energy. So make the switch and save money, energy, and our planet! Check out the great infographic below from the US EPA’s Energy Star program for more amazing facts about energy-saving light bulbs.

Lighting Made Easy Infographic

Pala Environmental Department News California

The Many Uses of Native Plants

Did you know that many of Pala’s native plants were traditionally used for more than one purpose? For instance, manzanita provided food, medicine, construction materials, and was used in rituals. The berries were used to make a tea-like drink; mashed into a jelly; or  dried and ground into flour for mush.  The seeds were  ground into meal for mush or cakes or used in turtle shell rattles. A tea from the leaves was used to treat diarrhea and poison oak. The trunk and branches of the bush were used for firewood, construction, and making broom, tool and pipe handles.

Manzanita 2

Another plant that had many uses was white sage. Sage seeds could be used to make flour for mush, or blended with other seeds for flavor. Seeds were also used medicinally as an eye cleaner. The leaves were used for flavoring food and treating colds, or were dried and tied into bundles for smudging and purification. White sage is still used in this way today. Sage leaves were also mixed with water for use as shampoo or  dye. Dry leaves were placed in the underarms as a deodorant.


Some plants, such as deer grass, served one main purpose – in this case, basket weaving. The stalks were used as foundation, or warp, material in coiled baskets. Although deer grass was only used for making coiled baskets, baskets were used for all sorts of things, such as storage, cooking, carrying, and even hats!

Deer gras


Pala Environmental Department News California

Xeriscape Your Landscape!

Spring is here, signaling for most people that it’s time to start your gardens.   As California enters its fourth straight year of severe drought, we should all think about landscaping with low water use plants, instead of water-hogs (like grass & tropical plants).

Xeriscape is the name for a type of landscaping done in arid regions, like southern California, that uses little to no water for irrigation.  These types of landscapes also require far less maintenance than most gardens, making them very easy to maintain.  They usually attract all kinds of beautiful wildlife, such as butterflies and hummingbirds, with their bright-colored flowers and wonderful scents.  The reward of installing these types of gardens is being able to sit and relax in them during those long summer evenings, when the breeze moves through the trees and the hummingbirds flicker from plant to plant.

These xeriscape tips will help you plan your low-water garden:

  • Planning & Design: make sure you include plants/trees of varying sizes and textures, as well as rocks or stepping stones to add interest, and mulch the rest. Trees planted on east & west-facing spots can protect your house from the hottest parts of the day (allowing you to use less energy on air conditioning).
  • Best Plants to Use: native plants or low-water use plants from regions with an arid Mediterranean climate like ours will do best in Pala. There are so many different types of plants (not just cactus!) that are different sizes, colors, textures, and heights that you will have no problem filling your garden with beautiful plants. PED has lists of native plants, plants that hummingbirds/butterflies love, plants that stand up to fire really well, and more.
  • Turf/Lawns: we recommend getting rid of as much of your lawn or turf as you can, since lawn and turf grasses require a huge amount of water. Consider replacing it with groundcovers or mulch.
  • Efficient Irrigation: use separate irrigation for turf and the rest of your plants. Turf should use sprinklers, making sure the water only waters the lawn (not the sidewalk). Trees, bushes, flowers, and ground-cover should be irrigated with drip irrigation or bubblers, watering only where the plant actually is.  This reduces your overall water use.
  • Mulch: mulch helps control weeds & keeps moisture in the ground, instead of evaporating, so you can water less. The Pala Transfer Station sells mulch, so you don’t even have to go far to pick some up.
  • Maintenance: maintenance should be easier & cheaper with these types of gardens. Once the plants are in & your drip irrigation system is automated, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy it.

If you’re curious to learn more, or want some help with design questions, please stop into our Pala Environmental Department office at the Tribal Administration Building, or see us at our booth during Cupa Days on May 2.  Happy Gardening!

Pala Environmental Department News California

Protecting Our Oak Trees

With the start of spring and warmer temperatures there will be a noticeable increase in insects and the diseases that they carry. One that is of serious concern is the Gold Spotted Oak Borer (GSOB), which is a flathead borer that causes mortality to oak trees. Experts believe it was introduced into the Descano area of San Diego County by the transport of infested firewood from Southwestern Arizona in 2004. The GSOB mortality of oak trees has since spread to other portions of San Diego County as close as Julian and isolated areas of Idyllwild in Riverside County.


 The Gold Spotted Oak Borer (GSOB) leaves visible evidence on three species of oak trees common in San Diego County. When their larvae create feeding galleries underneath the surface of the bark, GSOB attacks may be recognized by the following evidence:

  • Red or black staining in dime-sized to half foot sections
  • Blistering and oozing on the surface of the tree
  • Crown thinning
  • Twig and branch die-back

Evidence of injury can also include chipped outer bark from woodpeckers feeding on the larvae and small D-Shaped exit holes where the gold spotted beetles pupate and emerge from the tree. Impact varies between three oak species and can consist of gray or brown coloring in the crown of the tree and thinning of the foliage.


Currently the Pesticide Program is using these monitoring tools to detect GSOB:

  • Putting up purple monitoring traps provided by United States Department of Forestry on oak trees in selected areas during the flight season from May through September to detect for GSOB.
  • Physical checking for symptoms of GSOB, implementation of an oak tree inventory, and numbering system.
  • Development of an aerial imagery oak tree map.

These are tips for how you can help prevent GSOB from being introduced into the community:

  • Check oak trees on your private property for symptoms of GSOB.
  • When you get firewood ensure that you check it and that it has been cured for at least 2 years.
  • Do not transport firewood from an infested area to an un-infested area.


If  you have any questions or want more information contact Pala Environmental Department Pesticide Technician Jesse Castro at (760) 891-3549.