The Pala Tribe works diligently to anticipate any environmental damage they might create. With this in mind, they have developed specific programs in working to preserve the environment.
The Pala EPA Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program plays an increasingly important role in data management, decision making and problem solving for the Tribe. Our GIS program uses a combination of aerial photography, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and sophisticated computer software to create and maintain spatial data and produce highly technical maps in support of EPA programs as well as other tribal departments. Currently we maintain up-to-date maps of the reservation boundary, roads, sewer and water systems and commercial operations, as well as current and historic aerial imagery.
The Pala EPA Pesticide Program consists of a Pesticide Voluntary Plan, which monitors pesticide usage for compliance under the FIFRA (Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act), an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) at the Pala Child Care. The facility utilizes IPM practices in managing pest problems instead of using toxic pesticides that could be harmful to children. Education and outreach on pesticides to the community is done via mail outs and flyers, which include Pesticide Assistance to residents on pest problems, an Earth Day presentation at the Vivian Banks School, and hosting Pesticide and IPM workshops.
The Pala Air Program's goal is to monitor and assess the quality of air on and nearby the Reservation and to regulate potential air pollutant sources. Toxic air pollutants are considered to be substances in the air that are hazardous to humans. Our program has successfully monitored air pollutants and weather conditions over the last 8 years. We have put into place a new air pad with state-of-the-art equipment for monitoring and are continuing to expand the program in order to monitor dangerous air pollutants on the Reservation.
The Water program monitors water quality on the Reservation, including Pala's drinking water, to be sure it meets all Federal EPA requirements. The water program has three components: The Clean Water Act (Section 106), The Clean Water Act (Section 319) and Source Water Assessment Planning (SWAP). Both Clean Water Acts fund monitoring efforts to reduce pollution, including on-the-ground projects such as junkcar and tire removal. SWAP is used to help identify contaminant sources on the Reservation, especially in drinking water.
For articles and more information on Gregory Canyon, please visit www.savegregorycanyon.org.
County retained Edarra Group to prepare North County Landfill Siting Study.
Edarra Group identifies 18 sites, which were narrowed to six by Citizens' Task Force. Gregory Canyon was not included. Edarra Group conducts Phase II study of six sites. Citizen Task Force selects three. Gregory Canyon not included.
Board of Supervisors hires SCS Engineers for Expanded North County Landfill Siting Study. (Grand Jury could not determine why new study mounted at cost of $100,000).
Archaeologist's report rates Gregory Canyon site may have major constraints as it abuts Gregory Mountain, which had been identified as a sacred mountain by the Pala Band of Mission Indians.
SCS completes report reviewing 168 sites, including Gregory Canyon, which it eliminates in the first round due to insufficient capacity. Study narrowed to six sites and then three sites.
David Lowry, part owner of Gregory Canyon site, reveals that Waste Management Inc. is now involved in Gregory Canyon site.
Board of Supervisors approves CAO to proceed with further studies of the three sites: Blue Canyon, Trujillo Canyon and Aspen Road.
David Lowry formally requested Gregory Canyon site to be added to county study at his expense.
Board of Supervisors approves adding Gregory Canyon to site study.
SCS determines that using evaluation of an additional site using the criteria developed during the Expanded North County Landfill Study that Gregory Canyon would be in the bottom third of sites reviewed without using a negative cultural finding.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is signed by Lowry and Waste Management Inc.
Board of Supervisors request Regional Water Quality Control Board opinion on possible water quality issues at the Gregory Canyon site.
Board of Supervisors authorizes EIRs on Trujillo Blue and Aspen Road.
Board of Supervisors vote to all use of Lowry/WMI funds to pay all costs of additional EIR on Gregory Canyon.
County staff conducts first review of Gregory Canyon and concludes, " Staff cannot support the placement of a landfill at Gregory Canyon " for ethnographic/archaeological impacts.
Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) formally recommends that Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors find that Gregory Canyon landfill has significant and unmitigable impacts of cultural, Native American, visual, land use, noise and biological resources as well as significant and unmitigable cumulative impacts on habitat loss, land use, and noise.
County Grand Jury recommends that Board of Supervisors reject the original three sites and (a) specifically reject the selection of the Gregory Canyon site. In addition they recommend the Board of Supervisors (b) authorize an additional site study to find sites not near or adjacent to major groundwater resources and (c) make the search a priority.
Butler Roach Group doing study of three sites determines Gregory Canyon would have a 14-year life span.
County staff rejects bid by Waste Management Inc. to own and operate Gregory Canyon landfill site.
CAO and Board of Supervisors vote to do a redefined landfill siting study of approximately 20 sites and an additional study of Aspen Road and Gregory Canyon.
WMI withdraws its application for Gregory Canyon Landfill after CAO states that it would not enter into a joint venture with WMI to operate Gregory Canyon.
Board of Supervisors requests District Attorney investigate WMI on various issues including Gregory Canyon.
Board of Supervisors accepts Butler Road Group's report on 16 additional sites.
District Attorney's final report issued finding: " Our examination of the circumstances and timing of David Lowry's efforts to acquire property in the Gregory Canyon area indicates a possible conflict of interest. " Report also stated: " Lowry and representatives have been actively involved in lobbying members of the Board of Supervisors and others in county government for support of the Gregory Canyon project, including a donation of $50,000 to Sail San Diego, which was headed by Supervisor Brian Bilbray, and of which David Lowry was a participant. At the meeting where the donation was reportedly requested by Supervisor Bilbray, the project manager for WMI, Mr. David Ross, reportedly stated that 'the privatization of landfills and the development of Gregory Canyon' were also discussed. " Report concluded that: " When viewed in the context of their established history of business practice, it is clear that WMI management engages in practices designed to gain undue influence over government officials...This kind of practice appears to be Waste Management's primary reason for their $50,000 contribution to financially troubled Sail San Diego. " Of an article written by the Vice President of Research of the Reason Foundation that was printed in the San Diego Union-Tribune the District Attorney report stated: " This use of the media is an example of a method used by WMI to gain public approval of its enterprises and bring pressure against public officials. "
Board of Supervisors orders not to proceed with additional studies on Aspen Road and Gregory Canyon, but to continue with Merriam Mountain and Gopher Canyon, Merriam Mountain South, Aspen Road and Gregory Canyon.
County adopts County Policy A-116 committing to county ownership of landfills.
Attorney Wesley Peltzer files notice with Registrar of Voters for Prop. C "Recycling and Solid Waste Disposal Initiative on behalf of Citizens for Environmental Solutions." Board of Supervisors votes to place Gregory Canyon Landfill Initiative on the Nov. 8, 1994 ballot.
County Counsel advises Board of Supervisors that certain sections of Prop. C appear to violate several sections of state and federal law.
CAO reports the 1990 draft EIR did NOT conclude that a landfill could be operated at the Gregory Canyon site " consistent with all federal and state regulations governing landfill operation. " He further reported that " Furthermore, if an environmental review on either the implementation of the initiative or the required permits, such as grading, found significant unmitigable impacts, the Board of Supervisors might be forced to make overriding considerations. "
Prop C passed. Proponents had spent more than $900,000 all donations with the exception of $100 being made by the shareholders of Gregory Canyon Ltd. The initiative eliminates the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors from reviewing the permits for Gregory Canyon Landfill and places the sole responsibility on the director of the Department of Environmental Health as the lead enforcement agency.
Board of Supervisors approves preparation of EIR at expense of project proponents.
County adopts siting element with new landfill evaluation criteria as required by state law. Gregory Canyon included due to Prop. C but not analyzed with respect to new criteria.
EIR circulated for public comment by Department of Environmental Health (not the County of San Diego) for public comment.
EIR not certified by DEH after receiving considerable public comments.
New Revised EIR released for comment by DEH.
DEH finds portions for the revised EIR defective and requires those portions be re-circulated.
DEH begins review of a separate " benefits analysis " for the Gregory Canyon project.
This section of the EIR had been removed from the last EIR at the request of the proponent, thus removing it from public comment. Due to the " Significant and Unmitigable " findings, a finding of overriding public benefits must be made to allow the project to proceed. This " benefits analysis " is the basis for such a finding. This document is withheld when a copy is requested by RiverWatch.
County Staff’s report on the draft EIR and partial recirculated EIR is sent to Mr. Erbeck Director of the County Department of Environmental Health and the Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) for County landfills with a recommendation to certify the EIR.
In February of 2003, approximately 18 months after the close of the comment period, the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) consisting of the January 28, 1999, Draft EIR, the December 9, 1999, revised draft EIR and the May 25, 2000, revised partial draft EIR is certified. The FEIR identifies five areas in which the project will cause significant impacts that cannot be mitigated: Traffic and Circulation, Noise and Vibration, Air Quality, Ethno History and Native American Interests and Aesthetics.
A new “Benefits Analysis” is prepared by Gregory Canyon Ltd. LLC (“GCL”) and forwarded to the LEA. The document is withheld from the public. A finding of overriding public benefit for the project will be based on this analysis.
RiverWatch and the Pala Band of Mission Indians announce efforts to collect signatures for an initiative to repeal Proposition C.
RiverWatch and Pala Band of Mission Indians collect more than 100,000 signatures on initiative to repeal Proposition C. The County Registrar of Voters certifies that more than 82,000 of the submitted signatures are valid.
That November Proposition B, THE INITIATIVE TO REPEAL THE GREGORY CANYON LANDFILL AND RECYCLING COLLECTION CENTER ORDINANCE, fails to pass. This is due in part to confusion caused by the fact that people opposing the landfill had to vote “yes” not “no” on the initiative.
In June the LEA approves the solid waste facility permit. A lawsuit is filed by RiverWatch, the Pala Band, and the City of Oceanside challenging the FEIR and the approval of the solid waste facility permit.
In December the California Integrated Waste Management Board narrowly approves the permit without majority support, meaning that the permit was approved by default. The LEA then issues the permit.
The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region staff conducted a public workshop on May 19, 2005 at the Escondido City Council Chambers. There were approximately 150 people in attendance, to give public testimony. The Pala Tribe and the City of Oceanside hired the Stetson Engineering Firm to review the Joint Technical Document submitted by Gregory Canyon landfill. Our findings found numerous flaws, deleted information, and a lack of information regarding the JTD. We have submitted our findings to the regional water staff. The city of Oceanside, also hired a geologist and a chemist to review the JTD, also they found flaws in the report.
In resolving the suit filed in 2004, Judge Anello of the San Diego County Superior Court finds the FEIR to be inadequate and orders the LEA to decertify the FEIR, rescind the solid waste facility permit, and conduct additional CEQA analysis on traffic, water supply, and biological mitigation before issuing a new permit.
In response to the Court’s ruling, the LEA prepares a Revised Partial EIR for public comment. The document states that the water supply for the project would be reclaimed water purchased from the Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) for the project.
On May 31, 2007, the LEA certifies the Revised Final EIR (RFEIR) and requests that the court dissolve the 2006 writ.
The court partially dissolves the writ, but rules that the RFEIR failed to analyze the impacts of obtaining reclaimed water from OMWD, and it orders additional analysis. In response the LEA prepares an Addendum to the RFEIR. In November, the Court dissolves the Writ.
In January, the Fourth District Court of Appeals holds that OMWD violated CEQA when it approved the contract to sell water for the project without conducting any environmental review. In May, OMWD votes to not supply water for the proposed project.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) issues draft waste discharge requirements (WDRs) for the project as well as a proposed water quality certification under Section 401 of The Clean Water Act. In November, the Board declines to approve either the WDRs or the 401 certification.
The Army Corps of Engineers confirms that the drainage in Gregory Canyon is “waters of the United States” and that the project would need a Section 404 permit to fill those waters.
The LEA prepares another Addendum to the RFEIR to once again address the impacts of obtaining water for the project.
In response to a lawsuit filed by the Pala Band, the San Diego Superior Court confirms that the 2006 Court Order resulted in the rescission of the solid waste facility permit, rejecting the LEA’s “tortured” reading of the Order and its position that the permit was still valid.
In June, GCL submits a new solid waste permit application to the LEA, which finds it complete and correct. But GCL withdraws the application in August after the Pala Band points out glaring deficiencies in the application.
The Army Corps holds a Scoping Meeting, the first step in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project.
On May 13, 2011, the LEA approves the solid waste facility permit and forwards it to CalRecycle for its concurrence. CalRecycle concurs with the permit on July 15, 2011, and the LEA issues the permit in August.
Legislation (SB 833) is proposed in the California legislature to stop the project. Although the bill passes the legislature with only three opposing votes, Governor Brown vetoes the bill.
The Army Corps of Engineers issues a draft EIS for public comment. View the document here.
The Army Corps holds a public hearing in late January on the project, and the response is so great that the Corps is unable to take all of the proposed oral comments. In addition, the Army Corps extends the written comment period of the DEIS until April 15, 2013.