Economics of Annual Grass Invasion
Range and Meadow Forage Management Research
2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To conduct an economic analysis of efforts to reduce the risk of invasive annual grasses on selected Great Basin watersheds.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
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.
This project terminated in April 2013 and replaced with project 0500-00044-032-04S. This is the final report for this project which is related to Objective 5 of the parent project,"Create decision-support products and tools that will have
a sustained impact on managing cheatgrass/medusahead in the Great Basin and
surrounding ecosystems into the future". Invasive annual grasses impact all of the economic benefits from rangeland in the Great Basin. Weed management strategies are assessed according to the expected value of their long term outcomes relative to the cost of implementation. This project was initiated to determine the cost/benefits of implementing rangeland invasive plant management programs that target preventing undesirable ecosystem changes that are more highly valued than those targeting rehabilitation. A simulation model was developed to estimate the value of invasive plant management treatments in wildfire suppression costs with and without treatment. Our research suggests that timing of invasive plant management policy is important and the general public is more willing to invest to maintain healthy rangelands than to restore degraded rangelands. We developed guidelines outlining the economic impacts of invasive annual grasses for a number of audiences. Two economic research bulletins were designed for land managers and six manuscripts were accepted for peer-reviewed journal publications. Numerous presentations were made at land manager workshops and professional conferences. All aspects of the project established in the proposal were completed.