The Big Pine Tribe of the Owens Valley
  • AIR

The overall objectives of the Environmental Department are to:

  • Maintain an environmental planning program
  • Protect the health and safety of the Reservation residents and visitors
  • Keep the Reservation in compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations
  • Be involved with local, state and national decision making processes to better protect the water, air and land resources
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants have empowered the Tribe to develop an Environmental Department which protects the natural resources of today so that generations of tomorrow will be able to enjoy clean water, air, and land.

The Environmental Department staff:
Sally Manning Environmental Director
Alan Bacock Water Program Coordinator
CYNTHIA DURISCOE Air Program Coordinator
Joe Miller Environmental Technician
Gregory Spratt Solid Waste Technician


Including Junk Vehicles and Yard Waste



Solid Waste goes by many names: Polite names include Trash, Garbage, Junk, Debris, Refuse, Rubbish, Scrap, and Litter!

Residents of the Big Pine Indian Reservation are responsible for their own household wastes, and these should be disposed of appropriately and legally. Residents must arrange with regional waste collection companies for curbside household trash service. Alternatively, residents may haul their own household trash to a nearby transfer station or landfill. The two closest locations to Big Pine include the Big Pine Transfer Station and Bishop Sunland Landfill. Both are managed by Inyo County, and the county’s Integrated Waste Management website provides detailed information on when and how to dispose of most waste items. Got to:

Two goals of the Tribe’s Solid Waste program are to reduce blight on the Reservation and to minimize the amount of waste going into landfills. We strongly promote the concept of: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and encourage community members to always consider the environmental consequences of their consumption patterns. The Environmental Department provides curbside recycling service and actively assists community members with Solid Waste management. Find assistance on how to dispose of items in the links on this page, or call the Environmental Department.


The Environmental Department picks up recyclables curbside each Tuesday throughout the Reservation. If you need a bin, help getting started, or advice, please let us know. Call the Environmental Department (760) 938-2003. We’ll take empty cans, bottles, jars, plastic containers, cardboard, and paper. Please call if you have a large or special item you need help disposing.

big pine tribe environmental - recycle


List of items that Big Pine Tribal Environmental Department will pick up:
  • All California Redemption Value (CRV) or items stamped “CA Cash Refund.” This mostly includes drink containers such as aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles.
  • Glass: All glass bottles and containers, including clear, brown and green glass. (Please don’t include mirrors, broken glass, window or auto glass.)
  • Plastic: #1 and #2 plastic ONLY!
  • Newspapers, including the inserts.
  • Corrugated cardboard.
  • Chipboard: Cereal, tissue, shoe and other such boxes
  • Paper: Office paper, junk mail, unbound magazines or catalogs
PLEASE make sure recyclables are EMPTY and CLEAN!

Please remove lids, remove all contents of the container, and rinse clean. Items not suitable for recycling may be left in your bin for you to dispose. The Recycling program is sorry for any frustration this may cause.

The following items may be collected by the Environmental Department but please call to arrange for removal (760-938-2003 ext. 234):

  • Electronic E-Waste: Computers and peripherals, monitors, keyboard, mouse, printers, telephones, etc. Almost anything with a cord is recyclable.
  • Metal, Wood, Cars, Appliances, and any large items
  • Household Hazardous Waste, such as paints, pesticides, motor oil, bleach, solvents, and used batteries
  • Fluorescent and compact fluorescent (e.g. spiral) light tubes and bulbs.

Note: The Environmental Department will charge a fee on certain items to be hauled for disposal. These fees are in accordance with what the County charges at the gate. Please see the County’s website for the list of fees Thank you for doing your part!

List of THINGS THAT CANNOT BE RECYCLED now: (some of this is just plain common sense, but sometimes we all wonder!)

  • Anything messy with food, tape, or dirt, or Combination items, such as plastic wrap stuck on cardboard or foil-lined boxes. (However, if it can be cleaned and separated, please do so before tossing the recyclable part in your bin!)
  • Most paper, foil, plastic, and foam food wrappers that have been in direct contact with food, such as fast food wrappers and containers, candy bar wrappers. No messy pizza boxes.
  • Most (used) paper plates, cups, cup lids, plastic utensils
  • Paper napkins, tissue, toilet paper, paper towels
  • Bags from pet food, charcoal, fertilizer
  • Bubble style or plastic or Tyvek mailing envelopes
  • Styrofoam
  • Broken glass, old-style light bulbs, dishes, mirrors, window or auto glass, drinking glasses
  • Books (hardbound or paperback) or catalogs with a glued binding
  • Photographs on old-style photo paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Cloth or clothing

Try adopting a motto: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” in that order. It’s best to reduce unnecessary consumption, thereby precluding the need to secondarily “process” (dispose of) the item (or its wrapper)! If you have an item that can be reused, but you no longer need it, consider donating it. Charities, thrift stores, garage sales, and other opportunities exist for getting items to people in need. When you have a choice, choose items that can be reused or recycled.

We invite all households to recycle and promote other efforts to keep our community clean. If you need help getting started with recycling, or if you have any questions, please call the Environmental Department at 760-938-2003.

Click here for short list of Reservation Recyclables: » REZ RECYCLE AT A GLANCE

Recycle Small Electronics And Let the Post Office Pay!

The U. S. Postal Service provides free postage if you use one of their little, self-sealing envelopes to mail in certain items for recycling. They will accept: inkjet cartridges, cell phones, PDAs, iPods, MP3 players, and digital cameras. Don’t let used or non-functional items sit around or end up in the landfill, mail them away for recycling. Look for the display at the Big Pine Post Office.

Unwanted (Junk) Vehicles The Environmental Department will happily schedule free removal of an unwanted motor vehicle! Unwanted vehicles are not only an eyesore, they can also create environmental problems as they sit and rot. Fluids leak into the soil and our drinking water, stinging insects or disease-carrying vermin move in, and children think they are playhouses, until they get cut on rusty, sharp edges.

The Big Pine Tribe now has a Junk Vehicle Ordinance, whereby the Tribal Council may declare a vehicle abandoned and have it removed at the land assignment holder’s expense. Please note, it’s best to have the vehicle removed before it becomes a problem.

Click here to view the Tribe’s » JUNK VEHICLE ORDINANCE

Yard Waste

The yard work isn’t finished once the weeds are pulled or the limbs cut: There is still a need to deal with the waste that accumulates. This is the responsibility of each community member.

Local landfills now charge fees for yard waste. However, the Bishop Sunland Landfill has a tub grinder (a super-sized chipper) where they turn larger limbs into mulch. Their mulch may be retrieved, free, from the landfill.

The BEST thing to do with yard waste is RECYCLE it at home! This can be accomplished by creating a compost pile. Over time, dead vegetation and other plant-based wastes will be converted by microorganisms into organic soil. Many resources exist for explaining how to get started on composting.

Short of compost, limbs may be CHIPPED INTO MULCH. Contact the Environmental Department about its chipper to create wood-mulch. This mulch is handy for many landscaping tasks and healthy for the environment.

Read more about mulch here » IN THE GARDEN - MUCLH

TIPS for Managing Yard Waste:

Before you start cutting and piling yard waste, have a plan for dealing with the resulting debris. Can you make it into mulch or compost? Will it fit into your curbside waste bin? Can you haul it to the Big Pine Transfer Station or Bishop Sunland Landfill? (If so, be aware they will charge a small fee.)

Remove weeds as soon as they sprout, when they are small. Not only is it easy, but your pile of weeds will be puny! Also, when you destroy them before they make seeds, you reduce the seed bank, thus the chances of having another big crop of these weeds in the future.

Try Not to wait until weeds grow big, prickly, and full of seeds. It’s a lot more work, and the seeds will scatter ensuring you’ll have more of the same weeds again in the future. Think about Nipping them in the Bud!

Tumbleweeds are a chronic problem on the Reservation. They are like any plant, though: they start out small. For tips on attacking tumbleweeds before they attack you, click here: » REMOVING TUMBLEWEEDS

If you find brush and weeds are a constant problem, and/or the place always looks like it needs mowing, consider altering your irrigation practices. Plants won’t grow in Big Pine without water (except for those tumbleweeds), and if you are providing the water, try being more judicious and attentive to where it’s going and the extra work it’s creating.

Household Hazardous Waste - What Everyone Should Know

Many common and necessary items used around the home require special handling when it comes time to dispose of them. The items listed below are considered “Household Hazardous Waste.” If these substances leak into soils or water or waft into the air, they can be toxic to living things, including humans.
  • Paints, stains
  • Oil, oil filters
  • Pesticides
  • Insecticides
  • Solvents
  • Anti-freeze
  • Bleach, cleaners
  • Old diesel, gasoline, other fuels
  • Transmission fluid
Household Hazardous Wastes will be accepted, free of charge, on collection event days at the Inyo County Landfills and Transfer Stations. Each disposal site hosts about four of these collection events per year: Check their website [ ] or the Tribal newsletter for dates. All are Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Disposal sites can accept no more than 20 gallons per visit in no larger than 5-gallon containers.

Oversized Items

Not all large-sized junk is created equal. A broken washing machine, for example, can be dropped at the landfill for free, but a mattress costs money. The rule of thumb is anything with a cord can be placed for free in a bin at the landfill. Furniture costs $4 per item. Other large items may be charged as “Construction and Demolition” or “Mixed Debris” and charged by volume, in addition to the standard gate fee.

Tires and Trailers

The local landfill will accept automobile and other vehicle tires, but only if the tire is OFF the rim. There is a $4 to $8 cost per tire, depending on size. If you have tires that are on the rim and would like to dispose of them it will cost about $5 to have them de-mounted at a local tire shop. Rims may be accepted free as metal at local landfills.

Please think twice about acquiring or placing a trailer on your assignment – motorized or stationary – because eventually it will become a Solid Waste nightmare. Dilapidated, trailers are a problem, because NO ONE wants them! The cheapest way to dispose of a trailer – and it’s still expensive -- is to strip it of anything valuable (such as steel and other metal). Is there anything you could reuse, such as mirrors, glass, door handles, etc? Local landfills accept wood, fiberglass, and plastic debris as “Construction and Demolition” at a cost of $14 per cubic yard. So, crushed remains of a trailer will be accepted at the cost determined by the landfill gatekeeper.

Litter Clean Up

The Environmental Department recommends residents keep yards and roadsides free of litter and debris. Litter Happens! We know you probably didn’t leave that can or plastic bag near the end of your driveway, but the fact is, it’s there. Carelessness, dogs, ravens, and our valley winds conspire against us when it comes to litter. Keep in mind, it’s easiest and best to pick up litter as soon as possible. Clean places tend to stay clean, messy places tend to accumulate debris.

Links to other Solid Waste resources

Inyo County Solid Waste


EPA’s Solid Waste Management on Tribal Lands

Recology: The San Francisco dump’s Artist in Residence program


A comprehensive, A-Z guide that includes 200+ everyday items that can be recycled, both from the home and the garden


The Big Pine Tribal Air Program recognizes that breathing clean air is important to human health. Observations in recent years suggested a general deterioration in visibility and overall air quality, possibly due to factors such as dust blowing off the land surface, smoke from wildfires, and polluted air moving into the Big Pine area from afar.

To begin to better understand the air around us, the Tribal Air Program seeks to characterize ambient (outdoor) air pollutants. The Tribe gathers data on PM10 and PM2.5 (which is particulate matter 10 microns or 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller, respectively), analyzes patterns and trends, and attempts to identify the sources of the pollution. We use an Environmental Beta Attenuation Monitor (E-BAM) to measure particulates, and we compare these data with known standards as well as with data available from other instruments in the region.

We monitor visibility on the Reservation using a webcam. Below, is a live image showing visibility south of the Reservation.

The Tribe continues to grow its air program by:

  1. Gauging the Tribal community’s interest with regard to indoor air quality;
  2. Educating youth and adults about air pollution concerns and what may be done to improve air quality and reduce health risks;
  3. Developing information for the Tribe on the nexus between climate change and air quality; and
  4. Engaging in regional and national efforts to improve air quality.

big pine tribe environmental department


We are immersed in air like a fish is immersed in water. However, I’ll bet few of us spend much time thinking about this light, transparent medium called air. To give it a thought may give pause: Of things external to oneself, one is more intimate with air than with anything else. Every few seconds, 24 hours a day, for perhaps 7 million breaths a year, we inhale air deep into our lungs. In anatomical diagrams, lungs look like two big wings enveloping the heart. The moist and delicate lining of the lungs offers a surface area about the size of a tennis court for the air to be absorbed. Air crosses membranes to enter the bloodstream and cells. Air becomes part of us, which is good if we are breathing oxygen which fuels our life, but bad if we are breathing particles or chemicals. Some unwanted air components are exhaled, others stick in the lung’s lining, but many are absorbed where they may disrupt metabolic processes.

The U. S. Clean Air Act calls upon the nation to develop, then achieve, clean air standards. Scientists have advised us on acceptable levels of certain pollutants in our air. Levels are often set based on probabilities, risk tolerances, and lots of statistics. In truth, to our lungs, there is no “healthy” level of air pollution. Human bodies function best, and we tend to live longer, if we are free from dealing with pollutants entering our lungs.

Gravity holds air above the surface of the land and oceans, where we need it to be. Otherwise, the air is free to move. It circulates around the earth with limited predictability and oblivious to political boundaries.

This means that what you do you to air may stay in the air! Wood smoke and dust have always been generated by people, and after being suspended for a while, these particles typically settle to the ground. In modern times, however, we are directly and indirectly responsible for constant releases of a huge variety of air pollutants, from: emissions from the cars we drive; chemicals from manufacturing and decomposition of the plastics and other items we consume; and the gases from the power plant that fuels the lights in our home.

Air affects you and almost everything you do affects air. Keep that in mind, and consider how earth can be made better, not worse, by our actions.

What is a Health Advisory?

When local air pollution levels exceed certain levels that impact human health, an air quality advisory is put into effect. When this happens all individuals living in or travelling within the affected area are advised to be aware of potential health concerns that can be associated with poor air quality conditions. Most individuals with respiratory conditions (such as COPD and asthma), and individuals with existing cardiovascular conditions (such as angina, previous heart attack and congestive heart failure), may notice a worsening of symptoms, due to the poor air quality conditions. These individuals should monitor for worsening of symptoms and take the precautions routinely recommended by their physicians if a worsening of symptoms occurs.

The Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District will issue air pollution health advisories when air pollution exceeds selected trigger levels. District staff will take hourly readings of the wind speed, wind direction and particulate pollution levels in Mammoth, Bishop, Lone Pine, Olancha and Keeler, during normal business hours. Once we are reporting regular particulate matter data Big Pine will be included in this advisory system.

Health advisory notices will be faxed and emailed to schools and interested citizens in the affected communities and to local media outlets. Health advisories will remain in effect for the remainder of the day and if appropriate, will be reissued as conditions change.

A Stage 1 air pollution health advisory will be issued when hourly particulate pollution (PM10) levels exceed 400 microgram per cubic meter (µg/m³) for dust and 100 µg/m³ for wildfire smoke. A Stage 1 health advisory will recommend that children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung problems refrain from strenuous outdoor activities in the impacted area.

A Stage 2 air pollution health advisory will be issued when hourly particulate pollution levels exceed 800 µg/m³ for dust and 200 µg/m³ for wildfire smoke. A Stage 2 health advisory will recommend that everyone refrain from strenuous outdoor activities in the impacted area.

For More Information…

For other Owens Valley air information, visit: Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District:

For your area Air Quality Index(AQI) visit:

The Environmental Protection Agency Data website:

California Air Resources Board:

For the latest fire information visit:


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