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Green notes

Green notes

Following in green footprints

Shrinking one’s environmental footprint is made easier by following in the step of others. Solar Oregon is making it one step easier by organizing the Salem Green and Solar Home Tour.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Solar Oregon representatives offer tours of area homes on the cutting edge of the green movement. Tours start at the Pringle Creek Community, 1831 Village Center Drive SE, cost is $15 per car. Free for cyclists.

“While each tour reflects the unique interests of its community, the events share a common goal — to educate,” said Hadley Price, marketing and business development director, Solar Oregon. “This is an opportunity to start a conversation with other homeowners and businesses, contractors, designers, nonprofit groups and product and service vendors all in one place.”

Homes and businesses toured showcase the latest tech in renewable power, like solar electric and solar water heating,and energy-saving and environmentally-sensitive building practices, such as using earth-friendly and recycled materials, rainwater harvesting and passive solar design. Special attention is given to taking advantage of expanded tax credits and cash incentives offered by the Energy Trust of Oregon.

For more information, visit

Conferring names to conifers

With nearly 30 species of native conifers, identifying specific species can be a difficult chore.

Horticulture and native plant expert Wilbur Bluhm teaches a two-part class Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 on identification of Oregon conifers and where to find them. Bluhm is Oregon State University Extension Service professor emeritus.

The classes run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Straub Environmental Learning Center, 1320 A St. NE, next to Olinger Pool. The class costs $5 and is open to the public. Registration is required. To register, call 503-391-4145.

The class is sponsored by the Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center and the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon.

The cougar effect

Much has been made of the butterfly effect, the notion that a small change can lead to catastrophic effects farther down the line. What if the catalytic animal wasn’t a butterfly, but a cougar.

Dr. Bill Ripple kicks of the 2009-2010 Straub Environmental Lecture Series on October 22, 2009 with a speech on cougars’ critical role in sustaining healthy natural environments. The program begins at 7 p.m. at Loucks Auditorium in the Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty Street SE.

Changes in cougar numbers “can set off an ecological chain reaction affecting everything from deer numbers, to trees, shrubs, streams, lizards, frogs, fish, flowers, and butterflies”, said Ripple.

Ripple is a Professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. He performed a groundbreaking research at Yellowstone National Park documenting how the presence of wolves changed the way elks feed, resulting in the protection of plants and animals in and around streams.

The presentation is free and open to the public through support from the Salem Foundation, Salem Public Library, City of Salem, and Marion Soil and Water Conservation District. For more information, contact the Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center at 503-391-4145 or visit

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