Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2016 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Lessons from Portland urban ecology research
Yeakley, Alan
Co-Authors: Alan Yeakley

Abstract: This poster summarizes results from an ULTRA-Ex project focused on Portland-Vancouver urban ecosystem ecology from 2010-2016, and will suggest pathways for future collaborative work between Portland and Baltimore urban ecosystems. In our ULTRA-Ex project, we examined various ways in Portland in which human actions, governance systems, and the built and social infrastructure affect ecosystem functions and services provided by landscape vegetation pattern and regional water quality. We found the rates of riparian area losses that we observed in the 1990s due to development pressure were reversed during the early 2000s as extensive riparian restoration efforts began to outpace losses.  Restoration efforts have succeeded in reducing flooding potential and in creating increased sediment storage capacity in the lower floodplain of Johnson Creek in Portland.  Bioswales were shown to reduce metal loadings in outfalls to streams. Hedonic analyses show that water quality is correlated with property values in residential areas. Green infrastructure strategies such as bioswales provide environmental benefits, perceptions and expressions of their value by local citizens is mixed. Institutional stakeholders in the City of Portland face a number of both political and environmental uncertainties that hamper their efforts to make urban streams more resilient. Overall, while significant barriers yet exist, the efforts of institutions and citizens in the Portland-Vancouver metro region over the past two decades have succeeded in creating a more resilient urban ecosystem that has reclaimed a significant amount of vital greenspace, is providing better water quality in streams, and is now less prone to flooding.