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Nature In Our Backyards

“Sound urban planting practice includes a significant proportion of native vegetation, because natives require less maintenance and water than exotic counterparts, and provide places for native birds and animals to live.” — A Green City Program, Planet Drum Books, San Francisco, 1989.

Presently we are not only concerned about RVNA, we are concerned about the health of the Willamette River and our regional watershed in general. Additionally, we are very aware of the Western Wildlife Corridor and migratory fish in the river. For this reason, we ask these questions: (1) How can we minimize our negative impacts and maximize positive contributions to our neighboring natural area? (2) How can we naturescape our yards and integrate them into the wildlife corridor?

Backyard Habitat Certification program

Working with the Back Yard Habitat Certification Program, we encourage neighbors to:
  • Remove ivy, blackberry, morning glory, and other invasive plants that spread to urban wilderness.
  • Plant (more) native plants.
  • Strictly limit the use of toxic chemicals (Weed killers, & rodent poison).
  • Manage stormwater to protect our streams, rivers and the entire watershed.
  • Create habitat in residential areas for birds, bees, butterflies and wildlife.

Did you know water is an essential element in creating nature-induced habitat? Birdbaths, can save lives in dry, hot months; however they are too deep for bees. Bees become thirsty when gathering pollen, but they need resting places so they can drink and not drown. Try this functional and stylish DIY bee waterer, found [HERE].

What more can you do to help RVNA?

  • Get rid of Garlic Mustard in your yard and along neighborhood streets and paths!

  • Plant drought-resistant plants species: [LINK]
  • Take an Urban Gardening class to learn about natural pest management.
    OSU has online courses:

  • Avoid using pesticides that harm the bees and other critters. Studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides harm bees, soil organisms, aquatic life, and farmland birds. Beware: Plants you buy at nurseries or retail outlets may have been treated with neonicotinoids! OSU also has an Understanding Pesticides online course in their Master Gardner Online series.
  • Use your green Waste Management roll cart for yard debris. It's amazing how much vegetation you can process if you fill your green cart every week.
  • DO NOT dump yard debris anywhere along Palatine Hill Road, Boones Ferry Road, or any other neighborhood road that seems to be 'vacant'. It's your responsibility to remove yard debris. Roadside dumping is considered illegal!
  • NEVER dump motor oil, paint, anti-freeze, or nasty cleaning chemicals on the ground or pour them into a stormwater grate or catch basin. If you do, they may very well end up in the river! You can dispose of used motor oil or anti-freeze at your curbside by placing it in a milk jug with a screw cap and placing it next to your roll cart. Check your local waste management or trash removal site for specific instructions. (See next item.)
  • Use Metro's Hazardous Waste program to get rid of unwanted chemicals. [LINK]

Swimming Pools & Spas

Pool Owners: De-chlorinate pool/spa water before draining. DO NOT dump chlorinated pool/spa water into stormwater grate or catch basin, sewers, or into any stream or culvert — This is a fine-able offense! De-chlorinated water can be discharged to a yard, but it cannot run off to a neighbor's property or into the street/public storm water system.

Here is a link to the US Forest Service paper entitled Using Vitamin C To Neutralize Chlorine in Water Systems [LINK]. The process produces chloride in small amounts, but it does not produce enough to significantly increase salinity of the water.

Pool & Spa reference sheet: Pools, Spas, and Clean Rivers, by City of Portland: [LINK.

If you do not have a pool, but you observe a pool owner dumping their pool water off their property, or if pool water runs off onto your property or a neighbor's, call this hotline: 503-823-7180. Provide the date, time, location, source of water and hazardous material if known. A Bureau of Environmental Services Enforcement Officer will investigate the situation. [Will link to relevant city code].


Definitions (in progress!)

  • Invasive species on Wikipedia
  • Native_plant on Wikipedia
  • Native specie — Indigenous_(ecology) on Wikipedia
  • Naturescaping is a method of landscape design and landscaping that allows people and nature to coexist. By incorporating certain plants, especially native ones, into one's yard, one can attract beneficial insects, birds, and other creatures, and help keep our rivers and streams healthy.

Links (in progress!)

The Portland Plant List (200+ pages) is an extensive, concise reference to native plants in and around the Willamette Valley. It also lists and rates many invasive plants. [LINK]

We'll annotate this list as time permits. Contributions welcome.

End Notes

Many of the non-governmental organizations listed on our Confluences page deal with the issues listed above! [LINK]

See David Suzuki's A new kind of NIMBY: Nature in My Backyard [LINK]

There may be technical assistance for residents on tree planting. Can you get a free saplings? Is there any Tax incentive for planting certain trees? [need LINK]

To be continued...