Open Letter to Presidio Graduate School MBA Students and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

This SLDI Open Letter is in support of and response to the Presidio Graduate School students’ Open Letter to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Regarding Ecosystem Service Valuation as part of their capital markets open letter project:

As part of their curriculum, MBA students studying the interconnections of sustainability and business at the Presidio Graduate School are developing a capital markets mechanism to monetize ecosystem services that would incentivize communities to preserve and/or rehabilitate vital local ecosystems, such as watersheds, by utilizing a letter of inquiry to engage the Packard Foundation (the Foundation) as an investor in a proof of concept pilot project for the above model…

Dear Presidio Graduate School students and Packard Foundation Representatives,

Given that healthy watersheds are critical to supporting various functions within a community, the Sustainable Land Development Initiative (SLDI) supports your effort to develop a capital markets mechanism to monetize ecosystem services that would incentivize communities to preserve and/or rehabilitate vital local ecosystems, such as watersheds.

Therefore, in answer to your desire for a model community area that has a need for capital investments to sustainably support its water infrastructure, SLDI respectfully requests your consideration of a partnership opportunity with the following existing model in Curry County, OR:

Port Orford Community Stewardship Area

The southern coast of Oregon is a rare place on earth, where beautiful wild & scenic rivers tumble down through steep canyons, and the the tallest and largest carbon-sequestering forests in the world on their way to a rocky coastline with wide stretches of sandy beach, before pouring out into the mighty Pacific ocean. Along the rugged coast are picturesque working ports, made of hillside homes, small waterfront cafe’s, vibrant art communities, and more parks per mile than anywhere in the USA.

The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) has a mission to engage Port Orford fishers and other community members in developing and implementing a Port Orford Community Stewardship Area Plan that ensures the long-term sustainability of the Port Orford reef ecosystem and social system dependent on it. The Redfish Rocks area south of Port Orford has been designated a pilot marine reserve and a broader area of some 30 miles in length along the southern Oregon coast forming a unique 935-square-mile land and sea stewardship area is to protect terrestrial, freshwater, intertidal and ocean reserves.

On February 11th of this year, POORT held its 3rd annual Land-Sea Connection workshop to share healthy best practices with proactive agencies, NGO’s and local stakeholders to improve collaboration within the stewardship area and encourage implementation of the Port Orford Marine Economic Recovery Plan. Located in the stewardship area headwaters along a 1000’ ridgetop overlooking old growth forest and the marine reserve, Ocean Mountain Ranch is a SLDI carbon-negative project that will provide for long-term yield of high-quality hardwood, softwood, and wildlife habitat while serving as a model organic forestry/grazing operation incorporating residential, agricultural, educational, recreational, and industrial activities to promote sustainable land development best practices on the southern Oregon coast by mixing nature, tradition, and economics for a sustainable future.

Financing for ecosystem services is beginning to emerge from some compassionate climate capitalists who have been seeking out carbon offset projects that not only reduce carbon emissions but also have significant social, economic and/or environmental benefits in the communities where the projects are developed. These projects are often referred to as having co-benefits or some call them charismatic projects. Charismatic carbon projects are poised to experience significant growth because there is increasing demand from offset buyers because companies that buy charismatic offsets gain more brand value for buying them than if they had just bought garden variety offsets.

SLDI agrees with you that proving this concept as a successful model would enable investor money to flow to local communities while providing a means of preserving local ecosystems.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sustainable Land Development Initiative

Further Reference: How Curry County got into its fiscal crisis

Sustainable Land Development Initiative

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4 responses

  1. UPDATE:

    Atlantic Monthly
    A Conversation with a Sustainable Real Estate Developer
    By Nicholas Jackson

    Dec 8 2011

    What’s an emerging trend that you think will shake up the sustainability world?

    Quantifying the value of ecosystem services.

    Many regions are realizing that rural and working lands are important to their watershed management. For instance, absorption of peak rainfall in upstream areas is critical to the health of farms and habitat downstream, to the adequacy of existing flood infrastructure, and to our water supply and quality. If we lose too much of the ecosystem upstream we have to pay higher costs to mitigate the downstream effects. If we can quantify the value that these upstream working lands provide and pay owners to keep the land in “high absorption uses,” that land is less likely to turn over to development and the ecosystem services are preserved.

    Development isn’t bad. The market just needs more financial transparency about our impacts and ecosystem services markets can provide that feedback loop…

  2. ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Re: Open Letter on Community Stewardship Area Ecosystem
    Service Valuation
    From: James Auborn
    Date: Fri, December 09, 2011 12:39 pm
    Cc: Leesa Cobb


    The City of Port Orford was the first, and only, local government to formally endorse the Port Orford Community Stewardship Area. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to support this effort and perhaps serve as a model community.

    Mayor Jim Auborn
    City of Port Orford

  3. ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Re: Open Letter on Community Stewardship Area Ecosystem
    Service Valuation
    From: Leesa Cobb
    Date: Fri, December 09, 2011 3:13 pm
    To: James Auborn
    Cc: “”

    Terry — this is a great idea. Thanks for moving it forward. Leesa

    Leesa Cobb
    Executive Director
    Port Orford Ocean Resource Team
    PO Box 679
    Port Orford, OR 97465
    PH: 541-332-0627

    Recipient of NOAA 2010-11 Award of Excellence “Organization of the Year”

  4. UPDATE:

    PRI – Living On Earth

    Oregon’s First Marine Reserve
    December 16, 2011

    Oregon’s about to open its first marine fishery, off the coast of Port Orford. Now, scientists are trying to use the area to study the life cycle and patterns of fish…

    Oregon Congressmen Offer Bipartisan Forest Plan
    December 17, 2011

    By Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader

    Oregon’s rural communities cannot afford another 20 years of gridlock in our federal forests. Without a new path forward, mills will continue to disappear, forest jobs will be outsourced, and counties will be pushed off the budgetary cliff.

    During a time when it’s particularly hard to find common ground in public policy, we think we have achieved a balanced forest health and jobs plan — in a uniquely Oregon way…

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