PORT was selected by the Regional Plan Association of New York to assist in evaluating the design potentials of recommendations that were outlined in the Fourth Regional Plan. PORT’s work focused on The Highlands, an area stretching from Pennsylvania to Connecticut at the base of the Eastern slope of the Appalachian Mountains. This study area is not a singular condition. It is a collection of distinct, highly charismatic landscapes. At just over 30-miles from New York City’s urban core, these landscapes are the metropolitan region’s “near nature.” The essential ecosystem services this area provides are currently able to support the region’s existing population. However, as the region’s population grows, there is the risk of this carrying capacity reaching its limits and being permanently lost. As a means of addressing this threat, the PORT team proposed an approach that intertwines conservation and development by monetizing ecosystem services.