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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Economics of Annual Grass Invasion

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Project Number: 0500-00044-032-01
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 22, 2008
End Date: Apr 21, 2013

To conduct an economic analysis of efforts to reduce the risk of invasive annual grasses on selected Great Basin watersheds.

Watershed management strategies are assessed according to the expected value of their long-term outcomes relative to the cost of implementation. The types of outcomes we will investigate include changes in the costs of fire suppression, changes in flows of values from ecological goods and services,and changes in productivity for livestock and wildlife, as these affect human populations today and in the future. The expected outcome from a decision to "do nothing" for a given watershed is taken as a baseline. Expected outcomes from treatment alternatives, as those outcomes are expected to unfold over time, are described as differences from that baseline. In order to predict how benefits and costs would unfold over time, team ecologists will be consulted for their expertise in interpreting the expected ranges of ecological outcomes from management strategies modeled for predicting outcomes of the ecologically-based invasive plant management (EBIPM). Methods and data collection will focus on the expected differences from the baselines induced by management decisions. Differences that can be shown to induce a corresponding change in social welfare are identified as candidates for inclusion in the economic analysis. While these will likely vary by watershed and demonstration site, general methods will be developed for replication at any site in the Great Basin. Some ecological differences may not affect social and economic values directly. But if any indirect effects are significant, these will be indicated as values to measure and include in the economic analysis. Changes in values that are identified to be included in analysis must be quantified. Methods for quantifying these changes will depend in part on the nature of these values. For changes that can be measured as market-valued changes in expenditures, or revenues, standard economic approaches can be used that rely on data collection and econometric modeling. For changes that are not easily valued with market data (such as the value of a loss of 200 big game hunting days per years, or the value of losing habitat that would result in half as many sagegrouse in the watershed), non-market valuation methods will be used. Ultimately, the value of a management strategy will be expressed as the expected value of these measured differences in values from the baselines. An optimal management strategy is defined as one that achieves the highest present valued expected net benefits to society.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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