Solar update

Early last year the committee researched solar energy and the process for homeowners to initiate an installation of solar panels on their roof. After some research by a small team lead by Scott Huff, the Board put on hold any further actions regarding Riverhouse HOA policy development and guidelines until Oregon’s Department of Energy had clarified its position on HOA homeowner’s rights in this matter. The law has been clarified, and now, by Oregon law, HOAs cannot prohibit installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities.

“A guide published by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) confirms that solar homes have higher appreciation rates.”
Oregon Dept of Energy Solar Ruling

However, HOA’s may establish “reasonable” rules related to aesthetic and placement of solar equipment. (RWC 64.38.055)
Learn more >>

Leave the Leaves

Keeping fallen leaves on our Riverhouse property would benefit the environment.

According to The National Wildlife Foundation, instead of having all our fallen leaves taken to the landfill, we have other options.
Compost Maple Leaves

  • We can let leaves stay where they fall. They won’t hurt our lawn if they are chopped with up a mulching mower.
  • We can rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. For finer-textured mulch, we could shred them first. This would be instead of purchasing bark for mulch. All of the interviewed landscapers recommended mulching to help conserve water, amend our soil, and reduce the need for toxic weed control.
  • We can let leaf piles decompose; the resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention.

    If we combine fallen leaves with grass clippings (distributed on the bayside of the path that has previously been sprayed with Roundup), we can suppress weeds as well as build soil to better combat erosion, filter runoff into the river, retain moisture, and build a nutrient-rich soil that could support the growth of fresh seasonal vegetables.

Learn more from The National Wildlife Foundation >>

Fava Beans as Green Manure

Fava Beans used as a cover cropMaxine brought some Fava Beans to the Board Meeting this past week for me to plant as a cover crop. I’ve never before gardened in a location where a winter planting was possible, so I did some research for our bio-region.

In the Pacific Northwest, planting a cover crop in the fall can help to capture and recycle nutrients that would otherwise be lost by leaching throughout the winter rains. Cover crops also protect from water and wind erosion. They can help the soil absorb water more readily, suppress weeds, supply nitrogen and increase organic matter in our porous sandy island soil.

The Oregon State University Master Gardener handbook, “Sustainable Gardening” recommends fava beans as one of the choices for an Oregon cover crop.

I just planted Maxine’s Magic Beans where the pumpkins grew this past summer. Let’s see what happens? I love to watch things grow!

Learn more about cover crops from the Oregon State University Extension Service >>

Disaster Preparation Guides

One of the easiest ways to learn about disaster preparedness and have disaster-ready tools at your fingertips is to download the free, Red Cross mobile apps. These apps are available to both iPhone and Android users and contain a wealth of information about what to do before, during and after a disaster. All apps contain an “I’m safe” feature, locations to the nearest shelter, and a tool kit with items like a built-in flashlight, strobe light and whistle. These fun, easy-to-use, informative apps can be lifesavers in times of emergency.

Learn More. Download a PDF file of PREPARE! A RESOURCE GUIDE published by the Cascade Region of Oregon and Southwest Washington Red Cross