YUCCA VALLEY — The Earth Day Celebration brings a profusion of scientific innovations, conservation exhibits, recycling ideas, art vendors and educational kids’ activities to the Hi-Desert Nature Museum courtyard every year. The event held this Saturday was no exception.
Sponsored by the Morongo Basin Community Organizations Active in Disaster, Sunny Evans made an exhibit of solar-powered ovens. She wrapped old tires with Mylar space blankets, put food containers inside them, stuck in a thermometer and covered them with glass. With the help of Marjorie Smith, she ladies cooked up rice, hot dogs, hard-boiled eggs, ribs, beans and potatoes. With the high cost of propane and the abundance of sunshine here in the desert, the idea has enormous potential.
“This idea comes from a third-grade science project, but in that case, the student was using pizza boxes. With our high winds out here, we decided to use old tires instead,” said Evans.
The combat center set up an exhibit showcasing its Total Waste Management Program, which has won the Secretary of the Navy’s Environmental Award For Sustainability for six years.
Patrick Mills, the program’s manager, explained how to reuse antifreeze and recondition large batteries.
“We use a reverse-osmosis filtration machine to strip the base elements out of used antifreeze,” he said. “Then we add these additive packages which give back its operating properties and add ionized water to create a 50-50 solution. We then test the finished product to make sure it meets military specs.”
Also at the combat center exhibit was a battery-reconditioning machine, which was hooked up to three vehicle batteries.
“This machine uses an ultrasonic pulse to clean sulfates and phosphates off the lead plates inside the battery,” Mills explained. “After cleaning the cells, we recharge the battery and make sure it can perform with a minimum of 12 volts.”
The machine saves the military money; the original batteries cost $300 to $500.
The Soroptimists’ booth showed how to make jewelry from aluminum cans. With a can, a metal punch available at Walmart and a little paint, they were making very attractive earrings.
Plant-based exhibits abounded. Transition Joshua Tree demonstrated water-conserving wicking buckets, the California Native Plant Society sold native plants, Lavender Budds Farm showcased the many uses of English lavender, Mike Branning of Unique Gardens brought a beautiful selection of succulents and the Morongo Basin Conservation Association promoted the Desert-Wise Landscaping Tour.
Joshua Tree Animal Rescue brought a desert tortoise and a 9-year-old African sulcata. Already huge, the sulcata is still growing. Rescue manager Heidi Saunders said, “His owner had to give him up. He is 93 years old and he kept getting tripped by him.”
A kids craft was offered by Phoenix Scouts. Kids covered pine cones with peanut butter and rolled them in bird seed to make hanging bird feeders.
Several booths had educational exhibits for kids. The San Bernardino County Solid Waste Management Division gave prizes to kids for answering recycling questions, the county’s Water & Sanitation Department had an interesting model of the hydrologic cycle and the Bureau of Land Management had an exhibit educating kids on endangered species.
There were several ceramic artists as vendors. After all, ceramics is a very earth-based art form. Leann Thornton of Headspin Pottery, Thomas Alban of MazAmar Ceramics and Ed Keesling all had their pottery on display.