Reed College Canyon

Valuing the Benefits of Ecosystem Services Generated by the Reed Canyon Restoration Project: 1999-2009

1. Introduction

Ecosystem services valuation can help answer the question: what are the most important and most valuable ecological areas for humans and why are they so valuable? This anthropocentric framework is used in this report to value the benefits generated by the restoration of the Reed College Canyon.

The valuation of ecosystem services is a potentially powerful tool. It asserts that "nonmarketed goods and services must be given standing on a par with marketed goods"(Bockstael et al. 2000, 1385). Put more simply, there are benefits we get from the environment that we never pay for directly. The tree canopy we pass under along the side of the road, and the serene locations we visit on vacation, are valuable even though few people ever explicitly pay a market-determined fee for those experiences.

There is growing interest in recognizing and measuring these nonmarket benefits in order to include them in the policymaking process. In Portland, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) is attempting to value the broader (nonmarket) societal benefits of new "green infrastructure" as part of its Grey to Green initiative (Entrix 2009). Reports conducted by ECONorthwest (2004, 2009) for the City of Portland Watershed Management Program and BES have estimated ecosystem values for a flood abatement project in the Lents area and for riparian and upland habitat in the East Buttes area of SE Portland.

The BES and ECONorthwest reports rely heavily on existing studies for their ecosystem valuations. This report uses a similar approach-benefit transfer-which relies on the numbers assigned to benefits from research done in one circumstance and applies those numbers to a similar ecosystem (Eshet et al. 2007). This project also includes new ecological data for the Reed Canyon, identifies shortcomings in current data availability, and identifies areas for future research .

The purpose of this report is to provide information on the ecosystem services provided by the Reed canyon with a specific focus on the benefits of restoration efforts undertaken between 1999-2009. There are a few features of the Reed Canyon that make the benefits of its ecosystem services important to understand. The canyon covers about one quarter of the campus and contributes greatly to the natural ethos of the college. The ongoing restoration efforts of the college underscore how greatly the Reed community values the canyon. The canyon also has some of the highest quality habitat in the Portland metropolitan area providing critical habitat for species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

This report starts with a history of the restoration efforts in the canyon. We then provide an overview of different techniques used to evaluate ecosystem services followed by an analysis and valuation of relevant ecosystem services: water quality and quantity, air quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation.