Bee Smart, Bee Safe

Bees – honeybees, bumblebees, and other native bees – are critical to healthy wildlands and crop production. Normally, bees in the garden are not a problem. But… large swarms can be dangerous! Even a single sting can be dangerous to someone with allergies to bee venom.


Pala has a LOT of different kinds of bees. Most people are familiar with the honeybee (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus species), but there are dozens of other species of bees locally. Honeybees were brought from Europe for honey production and crop pollination, so are not native to the area. Most of Pala’s native bees live singly or in loose groups instead of colonies. Generally, honeybees are the most common to cause problems as they are often found around people and agriculture; used for pollination in fields and orchards; and live in large colonies. BEES DO NOT WANT TO ATTACK! Bees, even Africanized honeybees (“killer bees”) only sting if they are defending their hive or are provoked. Most stings are because a bee is stepped on, swatted, or someone is trying to remove a hive.


Most bees are attracted to dripping water, wet areas, and sweet liquids. Fixing leaking outdoor faucets and removing standing water from kiddie pools and other backyard items can prevent large groups of bees from entering you yard (and help prevent mosquitos as well). Covering pools and other water sources when not in use can also stop bees from coming to your water source.

Bees may be found in large swarms around recycling. Bees like nectar and other sweet liquids, including soda! Keeping recycling in covered cans, closed bags, and away from areas where children play can help prevent incidents with bees. Also, be sure to clean up spilled sweet drinks outside on warm days to stop bees – and ants – from finding it.


What if you want to attract beneficial bees to your yard? Bees are useful for pollinating lots of garden flowers and food plants, and are important parts of our natural world.

Planting a wide variety of native flowers and shrubs in the yard can attract native bees. Try to plant a garden that has blooming flowers that provide nectar and pollen through all seasons, especially spring and fall. Our native bees need a variety of nesting sites, including dead plants and open, sandy soil spots.

Stop by the Pala Environmental Department for tips on SAFELY building a yard and garden for pollinators!


If you have a bee issue, the first task is to see if there’s a reason you have a problem. Are the bees being attracted to a certain water source or heavily blooming tree? Can you remove the reason bees are showing up, or will it only be temporary – like a flower bloom? If bees, especially honeybees, are building a hive on or near your home, there can be a long-term problem.

Bees can damage structures and walls by burrowing into them and, for honeybees, through dripping honey. Honeybees will also swarm, where a bee colony splits into 2 and a female a large group of bees move to look for a new nesting site. A swam is usually seen as a large clump of bees hanging on a tree branch of house. When swarming, bees are less aggressive but may still attack in mass if provoked.


Contact Us!

The PED doesn’t perform removals or pest control in homes, but we can assist with helping Tribal members find the services that will work. We can also assist with helping to design a pollinator garden, helping reduce bee conflicts in your yard, and with identifying insects around the home!

If you have a bee swarm or nest that needs removal, the easiest thing to do is to find a local bee keeper. Many will remove honeybees for no or low costs.


Pala Environmental Department News California

2nd Annual Riparian Workshop

Pala’s second annual riparian workshop was a resounding success! We had a great turnout and a wealth of terrific presentations. We haven’t received copies of every presentation, but the ones that we have are linked below after the presenter’s contact information. You can find the sign-in sheet with contact information for all our participants here. And the list of Pala’s native plants is here. Here is the list of presenters and links to their presentations, if we have them.

Day 1

Kurt Broz – Intro / Pala HCP –  Presentation

Shasta Gaughen – Traditional Use Riparian Plants –  Presentation

Dave Roberts – Climate Smart Riparian Restoration: Planning for the Future –

Winston Vickers – Mountain Lions –

Tonya Moore – Permitting: The Story of Earl –

Melanie Tymes – River Regulations / Army Corps of Engineers –

Shea O’Keefe (with Pedro Torres) – NRCS Funding – (pedro.torres@ca.usda.govPresentation

Chris McDonald – Riparian Weed Management –

Amber Pairis (with Danielle Bourdreau) – Climate and Conservation / Tijuana River Estuary / Climate Science Alliance – (dboudreau@trnerr.orgPresentation 1  Presentation 2

Day 2

Norrie Robbins – Geology –

Mike Kelly – Tools of the Trade   –

James Law – Herbicide Sprayer / Restoration –

Carolyn Martus (with Jessie Vinje) – Plant Identification – (

Kurt Broz – Wildlife Survey Techniques –

Colin Lee – Camp Pendleton Program Overview –

Kyle McCann (with Joseph Kean) – Camp Pendleton Spadefoot Toad Surveys – (

Dan Cayan – Climate Variability and Possible Climate Change in Southern California – (dcayan@ucsd.eduPresentation

Terry Gaughen – Invasive Species of the San Diego River – (contact Shasta Gaughen; he doesn’t have e-mail)  Presentation

Pala Environmental Department News California

Fall Projects at PED

As we head into fall, the Pala Environmental Department is working on several projects that benefit our community. One new project we are working on involves the Pala Transfer Station. This is where most of the reservation’s waste gets handled. It costs a lot of money for the hard-working crew at Pala Tribal Services to pick up everybody’s trash, and even more money has to be spent on hauling all that waste to the landfill. In addition, a lot of what we throw away can be reused or recycled. With that in mind, the Transfer Station is expanding its capacity to accept materials such as mixed recyclables, reusable construction materials, and clothing and furniture donations. Soon, we also hope to begin a food-waste reduction and composting program. We will be working with Pala residents to help them separate food scraps from regular trash. We will take those scraps to the Transfer Station and turn them into a rich organic compost for gardens and landscapes. By reducing the amount of stuff we throw away, we not only save money on disposal fees; we also help save the planet! Click here to learn more about what you can recycle at the Transfer Station.

Another area where PED is working hard is climate change adaptation. We have all noticed that the temperatures are getting warmer and the weather is getting weirder. The consequences of climate change can include drought, more severe storms and unpredictable weather events, habitat degradation, impacts to wildlife, and increased risks to human health and safety. We are working on a climate change vulnerability assessment that will lead to a climate change adaptation plan for Pala. Soon we will be asking Pala residents to help us out by completing a survey about your biggest environmental concerns. Look for it either in the mail, at General Council meetings, or at a link on the PED website.

If you would like to be notified of the latest news from PED, you can always visit the website. If you want to be added to our email list, please send an email to and put “PED mailing list” in the subject line. This is a great way to reduce our use of paper! It will allow you to receive the PED newsletter, announcements, and other important PED information electronically.

We love talking to people, so call or come by the office any time!

Pala Environmental Department News California

Pala’s Drinking Water Quality

Every year, the Pala Environmental Department is required to release a report on the quality of Pala’s drinking water. We are happy to share this year’s report with you, which you should also be receiving in the mail if you are a Pala resident. Click on the link to 2014 Pala CCR or on the images below to view the report. If you have any questions, you can contact our Water Quality Specialist, Heidi Brow.

2014 Pala CCR

2014 Pala CCR_Page_1

2014 Pala CCR_Page_2


Pala Environmental Department News California

Tired of Tires? Let Us Help!

Did you know that you can dispose of old tires at the Pala Transfer Station? We have waste tire clean-ups a few times a year, but you can drop your tires off with us any time! Here’s what you need to know about waste tire disposal.


Why are waste tires an issue?

There are approximately 290 million waste tires generated annually in the United States. California generates approximately 40 million waste tires annually. This large amount of waste creates unique disposal issues. Here are a few examples of common issues related to waste tires:

  • The large amount of waste tires generated annually.
  • Illegal dumping or improper disposal methods.
  • Ownership liability of waste tires exists until final disposal.
  • Stockpiling of waste tires creates environments for mice, mosquitos, and other vermin to thrive.
  • Tire fires start because the surrounding vegetation catches on fire. Residue from tires fires is a toxic mixture of chemicals.

ee0c0e26cd7e418e072e3ac34b53ac58e35b6a0aWhat should I do with my old tires?

  • There are many options available for the proper disposal of used/waste tires.
  • The general public is allowed to self transport no more than 9 used/waste tires to a landfill or transfer station for disposal.
  • If you have more than 10 used/waste tires, a registered hauler must be used. Registered used/waste tire haulers can be found at the CalRecycle website.
  • If your business generates waste tires you must obtain an ID number from CalRecycle by calling 1-866-896-0600.
  • Used/waste tires are NOT to be disposed of in the trash.

How are used/waste tires disposed?

There are three main markets for the disposal of used/waste tires:

  1. Tire Derived Fuel (TDF): Although using waste tires as fuel is not technically recycling, tires produce 25% more energy than coal and the ash residue can contain a lower heavy metal content than coal.
  2. Civil Engineering Applications: Used/waste tires are shredded and the material derived is used as light weight fill material for road embankments and landfill projects.
  3. Ground Rubber Applications: The largest market for ground rubber is the blending of ground rubber with asphalt as either part of the asphalt rubber binder; seal coat; joint and crack sealant; or aggregate substitute. Arizona and California utilize the most asphalt rubber in road construction followed closely by Florida.


Where can I take my waste tires?

To properly dispose of or recycle your waste tires, take them to your local tire retailer or recycling center. Pala residents are encouraged to drop off waste tires at the Pala Transfer Station.

  • All tire types and rims are accepted.
  • There is no fee for drop-off.
  • Will accept up to 9 tires at a time from individuals.
  • If you have more than 9 waste tires please call.
  • Will not accept any waste tires from businesses.

Need more information? Contact our environmental technician, Antonio Lovato. Help us keep Pala clean and safe by properly disposing of your waste tires!


Pala Environmental Department News California

Tips about Ticks

Kurt Broz, Pala’s wildlife biologist, has first-hand experience with ticks. Here is his list of helpful information and advice to help you learn about and avoid these tiny pests.

Ticks are out in full force this year. Unfortunately, much of the information being passed around on disease and prevention is incomplete or false. Check out these fast facts about ticks to help you and your pets stay safe during summer fun.

  1. California has a few tick species. The two species most often encountered are the dog tick and the black legged tick.
  2. Several diseases can be passed by ticks. The most common ones seen in California are Lyme disease, relapsing fever, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  3. Lyme disease is likely only passed on by black legged ticks in California, not the larger dog ticks.
  4. None of the home or herbal remedies designed to repel ticks seem to work – including vinegar, eucalyptus, and essential oils. I’ve personally seen ticks questing (looking for hosts) on eucalyptus, sage, and other highly aromatic plants. I’ve also seen people using these home remedies being bitten by ticks.
  5. Why don’t they work? Ticks don’t just rely on scent to find you or your dog. They can find hosts through vibrations, moisture, your exhaled breath (CO2), and heat. It doesn’t matter what you smell like.
  6. Insect repellents that contain DEET work, but are probably not 100% effective.
  7. Permethrin absolutely works to repel ticks, and I’ve used it successfully. It is a spray that can be applied to clothing and affects the nervous system of ticks and other invertebrates, but is perfectly safe for humans and dogs. Don’t spray it directly on your skin, but rather on clothing and let it dry before wearing. It is safe around birds and dogs – don’t spray it directly on your dog – but is NOT safe around cats or aquatic animals like fish. Ticks that do attempt to cling to your clothes will fall off quickly, damaged by the insecticide.
  8. HOW TO REMOVE A TICK: Don’t burn them, smother them, or anything other than just pulling them out. The safest, most effective way to remove a tick is to pull them out using tweezers. Get as close to the front of the tick near your skin as you can and yank straight out. Clean the bite with soap, water, and any topical disinfectants you want.
  9. WHAT TO DO IF I’M BITTEN: Watch the area around the bite for strange marks or an allergic reaction. If you have any concern, see a doctor.
  10. DON’T PANIC! Most diseases, like Lyme disease, of major concern spread by ticks need an incubation period for transmission. A tick generally needs to have bitten you for many hours for the disease to cross from the tick to you. For Lyme disease, a tick probably needs to be biting you for 24 hours to pass on the disease. I’ve had to pull way too many ticks off of me after hiking and have never gotten sick from a tick.
  11. You can also help prevent ticks around your home. Ticks can also bite other mammals like rodents, so keeping your yard free of trash that might attract rodents is helpful. Snakes, predatory birds, bobcats, and coyotes all help control rodents. Also, making your yard friendly to small animals like birds and lizards that eat ticks can help keep your family safe. Keep grasses mowed or removed from your yard as ticks often congregate in grasses to wait for new hosts.

Though ticks may seem gross, they are a natural part of our ecosystems. The best way to stay safe during tick season is to stay vigilant. If you hike or work in the yard, check yourself after you get back. Ticks like to bite in hard to reach areas, like under a belt, beneath some hair, or on the back. If your dogs are outside, be sure to check them too! Ticks love to bite around the ears and under collars. Just don’t let ticks ruin your fun!

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

Snake Safety

Every spring in Pala animals begin to stir and travel, including snakes. Pala has numerous species of snake, such as gopher snakes and king snakes. All of our snakes are beneficial, and most of these species are harmless. Pala does have a few species of rattlesnakes that are venomous and potentially dangerous; however, rattlesnakes do not want to bite you and are easy to avoid.

Rattlesnakes  prefer to stay hidden, move around at night, and prey on small mammals like rats and mice. These animals can carry dangerous diseases and destroy crops. In fact, every spring animals test positive for plague on nearby Palomar Mountain. When rattlesnakes and other animals eat these rodents, they are most likely to catch the sick and injured ones, thus preventing the spread of disease. Unfortunately for us and rattlesnakes, they can also be deadly to people and pets.

Many people kill rattlesnakes – and many other snakes they assume are dangerous – as a first option. Most people who are bitten are harassing or killing a snake, and many of those are young men who have been drinking. Even a dead snake still has venom in its glands for a short time after death. As a result, people have been bitten by dead snakes. Walking away is the safest option.

The first line of defense against snakes is to keep them away from your home. Remove trash and debris from your property, keep vegetation trimmed, and keep rodents out of your home. If this doesn’t work and you still walk out one morning to find a rattlesnake in your garage, you now have another option.

During the regular work week when he is available, our wildlife biologist can safely remove rattlesnakes from in and around buildings. We also have safety equipment to assist with some other wildlife issues, like taking injured birds away for care or taking an angry squirrel out of a pool.  We are also happy to talk about ways to bring the wildlife we want closer to home, like how to set up a native garden for butterflies, and how to keep unwanted wildlife away from our homes.

If you have a snake or small animal emergency that we might be able to help resolve, please contact our office at: (760) 891-3510 or (760) 891-3550.

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

Pala’s Big Cats on Camera

The Pala Environmental Department has been lucky enough to take part in several exciting wildlife research projects throughout the county. The newest project is aimed at monitoring mountain lions. Our wildlife biologist Kurt Broz has been assisting Dr. Winston Vickers, a veterinarian from UC Davis, and his crew with research that aims to track, and protect, our imperiled mountain lions.

Mountain lions (Puma concolor) were once found through the Americas, from Eastern Canada all the way down to the tip of South America. Unfortunately, hunting and loss of habitat from agriculture have driven them from much of their habitat east of the Mississippi River. They have found a stronghold out west and the population has been rebounding in recent years. In California, mountain lions (also called pumas, cougars, or panthers – or témevish in Cupeño) still face many problems, including illegal shooting and freeways. They can be dangerous to people but attacks are exceedingly rare. Mountain lions eat deer, rabbits, and other small animals.

The researchers who have been allowed access to Pala have several goals. They plan to set up bait sites using dead deer to attract and photograph mountain lions. Then, when a mountain lion is reliably returning to a bait station, they hope to trap the animal. The lion will be safely sedated so that the researchers can take blood samples and attach a radio collar, after which the animal will be released. These researchers have years of experience doing this with much success, which means that none of our lions will be harmed.

Why is PED participating in this research? The goal is to understand where mountain lions are hunting, how they’re traveling, and how we can best prevent them from negatively impacting human lives while conserving them. Information from this project is being used to place underpasses under Interstate 15 so coastal lions can mingle with interior lions (like the ones in Pala). This information is also being used to help find better ways to keep mountain lions from eating livestock, thus reducing the chance of mountain lions being killed. So far, researchers are tracking one mother and her cubs that occasionally wander into Pala and Pauma, and they hope to catch and collar a male seen on camera several times. Hopefully research like this can help mountain lions stay a wild part of Pala for generations to come.