Tribal Members Harvest and Celebrate the Yucca of the Wash

Tribal Members Harvest and Celebrate the Yucca of the Wash

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Boiled yucca blossoms have a subtle flavor similar to an artichoke.

The yucca has a strong cultural meaning to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Its delicate spring blossoms are harvested for food. Yucca fronds can be processed into rope or be woven into sandals and clothing. When rubbed in water, the plant produces a foamy soap. It can be used as a medicine, and its hardened stalk serves as a trusty quiver for arrows.

The San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians cooperatively steward the cultural native flora through a mutual agreement. This agreement highlights the alliance of the tribe and the district in preserving the natural environment and traditional uses associated with the wash.

“The Yucca Harvest is a big part of the collaboration between the water district that helps us preserve our culture,” said San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos (Serrano/Cahuilla), a former chairman of the tribe.

Other plants, such as the white sage, dog bane, acorn, cactus, pinyon, and juniper berry are also cultivated at various times and locations to celebrate and continue the tribe’s culture, tradition and harmony with the Earth.

This spring’s harvest was celebrated April 14 at the San Manuel Tribal Unity and Cultural Awareness Program’s annual Yucca Harvest Celebration.

Several tribal members from as far as San Francisco came to join in on what Ramos called “a fun-filled family event.”

Willie Pink (Luiseño /Kumeyaay) of Topanga oversaw traditional games such as dice made from walnut shells or a yo-yo like game that involves catching hollowed acorn caps on a stick.

“That’s a game that requires practice,” Pink said, chuckling as a newbie gave the game a try.

Other tribes represented included tribal members from Fort Mojave, Morongo, Pechanga, Cahuilla, Santa Rosa, Tuolumne Me-Wuk and Pala.

The event featured Cahuilla bird singing and Serrano songs, a demonstration of how to cook the yucca blossoms, Tuolumne Me-Wuk dancers, an acorn mush demonstration and more.

Lunch included boiled yucca blossom – which have a subtle flavor that is brighter than, but similar to, an artichoke – yucca bread, yucca salad, rabbit stew, deer chili and other popular dishes such as tamales and tortilla chips.

People spoke about the importance of practicing tradition so that younger generations can retain those memories and carry them on. One speaker, Wally “Uncle Wally” Antone (Fort Mojave) said he retained his knowledge of the local language over the years because he grew up speaking his native tongue at home.

“There’s a lot of difference when you’re brought up traditionally,” he said. “That’s a little bit of what we’re trying to do here today.”

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Yucca fronds can be woven into rope and sandals, (above).

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Yucca blossoms before preparation.



Notice of Holiday Closures

Please see below for a list of upcoming 2018 holiday closures:


  •   New Year’s Eve/Day-January 1-2, 2018
  •   Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday – January 15, 2018
  •   Presidents’ Day – February 19, 2018
  •   Memorial Day – May 28, 2018
  •   Independence Day- July 4, 2018
  •   Labor Day – September 3, 2018
  •   Veteran’s Day - November 12, 2018
  •   Thanksgiving Day – November 22, 2018
  •   Day after Thanksgiving – November 23, 2018
  •   Christmas Eve - December 24, 2018
  •   Christmas Day – December 25, 2018                                            

If you should have any questions or concerns please contact our office at: (909) 793-2503. 


Notice of Public Hearing


The San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District (” District”) has completed the 2017 Engineering Investigation (EI) of the Bunker Hill Basin.  The Draft EI was presented to the Board at its February 8th Board Meeting and will be presented to the Board for approval at its March 15th Board of Directors meeting to be held at the District Office at 1:30 p.m.  This report is completed in connection with the Board of Directors’ consideration of a groundwater charge on groundwater production within the Conservation District’s boundaries.  Article 1, Section 75560 of the California Water Code, requires that a water conservation district that proposes to levy or continue a groundwater extraction fee “…shall annually cause to be made an engineering investigation and report upon groundwater conditions of the District.”  A copy of the Conservation District’s 2017 EI report is available for review online at the District’s website at  or at the District’s office at 1630 West Redlands Blvd., Suite A, Redlands, CA. 

This notice is provided to advise all interested parties that District staff is recommending a rate increase of 4% for the upcoming water year, and the use of rate stabilization reserves of approximately $35,000 to the District’s Board of Directors, the proposed groundwater rate is $3.36 per acre-foot for groundwater production for direct agricultural production and $12.08 per acre-foot for groundwater production for non-agricultural purposes.  These rates are proposed pertain to agricultural and non-agricultural groundwater production from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018.  California Water Code 75594 dictates that the rate for non-agricultural groundwater production must be between three and five times the rate for agricultural use.  The groundwater charge is not imposed on a property basis, but rather is a per acre-foot charge, which relates directly to the amount of groundwater produced from wells overlying the groundwater basin within the Conservation District’s boundaries.  Consequently, the ultimate amount of groundwater charge to be paid by individual operators cannot be precisely identified now, because it will depend directly upon the amount and purposes of groundwater produced in the basin from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Assuming similar levels of agricultural and non-agricultural production as occurred in 2016-2017,  the total revenue estimated to be collected from both agricultural (11,776 af) and non-agricultural production (60,154 af) for the 2016-2017 water year is $737, 026.  The groundwater charge is collected on a semi-annual basis, based on production statements operators submit for their groundwater production.  The District uses the proceeds of the groundwater charge to fund ongoing groundwater replenishment of the basin, including direct water recharge, facility operations repairs and maintenance, and related costs. A public meeting and public hearing on the proposed groundwater charge will be held in the Conservation District’s Board Room located at 1630 West Redlands Blvd., Suite A, Redlands, CA 92373.  The date and time for the public meeting will be April 12, 2017, at 1:30 pm.  The date and time of the public hearing will be held on April 26, 2017, at 1:30 pm. You are invited to attend the public meeting and public hearing, and may submit evidence concerning groundwater conditions, water supplies of the Conservation District, rates, or any matter relating to the proposed groundwater charge.  In addition, any party wishing to protest the proposed increase to the groundwater charge, may mail a protest to the Conservation District’s office at the address provided above, and/or present such protest at the public meeting or public hearing.  Further inquiries regarding the report or the groundwater charge, or requests for further information, may be directed to Daniel B. Cozad at 1630 West Redlands Blvd., Suite A, Redlands, CA 92373, or by telephone at (909) 793-2503. 

Business Hours

Effective Friday: March 9, 2012


8 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM



8 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM



Effective Friday, March 9, 2012, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District office will be CLOSED to the public every Friday. We will remain open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 5:00 PM.  The office will be CLOSED during Lunch from 12:00 P.M. to 1:00 P.M. Modifying our office hours is due to limited staffing and assists our reduced staff in providing the excellent service you expect. If you have needs not accommodated by the new hours, please contact Athena Monge to schedule a meeting.