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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

2010 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 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 sge grouse 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. Documents SCA with U. of NV-Reno.

3. Progress Report
The goal of this project is to conduct economic analysis of efforts to reduce the risk of invasive annual grasses on selected Great Basin watersheds and contributes directly to Subobjective 1.1 of the Area-wide pest management project for annual grasses in the Great Basin. Design and implementation of a “non-market valuation” survey to estimate the economic benefits of the ecological services provided by Great Basin rangeland (e.g., habitat for wildlife, water quality, wildfire suppression, and recreational opportunities) has been completed and survey pre-testing began in August 2009 continuing through Fall 2010. Additionally, an expert opinion survey was conducted to insure that the descriptions of the ecology in the non-market valuation survey (see above) are accurate. The expert opinion survey was launched in the summer of 2009. Data has been collected and analyzed and the results have been used to inform the descriptions of the ecology in the non-market valuation survey. A dynamic model of ranching behavior has been developed that captures how rancher's decision making concerning herd size and land treatments is influenced by current economic and ecological conditions as well as by their expectation of future economic and ecological conditions. A journal article has been submitted for publication that examines how the presence of stochastic wildfire influences rancher’s herd management and fuels removal decisions. The analysis examines how rangeland ecological condition and ranch acreage influence these relationships. We are analyzing how a rancher’s decision making is influenced by existing regulation and the complex private / public land ownership arrangements in the west. A theoretical paper entitled “Regulatory Policy Design for Agroecosystem Management on Public Rangelands” examines institutional and information constraints to efficient regulation on public rangelands. This paper has been submitted for publication in Summer 2010. A second paper is underway (joint work with Rollins, Taylor, Kobayashi) to examine the regulation of ranching on public rangelands in the context of a dynamic model with ecological change and irreversible ecological thresholds. ADODR monitoring progress through meetings and telephone conference calls and multiple site visits.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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