Methods for estimating the total economic values of accelerating restoration: Results for Washington’s Elwha River after dam removal

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John Loomis

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At an increased cost, ecologists can increase the rate and spatial extent of restoration and thereby accelerate the provision of ecosystem services. In order to justify the increased costs, we estimate the Total Economic Values of ecosystem services (TEVs of use and passive/non-use values) associated with alternative rates of restoration after dam removal on Washington’s Elwha River. TEV was estimated for two distinct restoration projects of: (1) native salmon; (2) riparian forests with associated wildlife. TEV of both projects is measured at three different restoration rates: (a) baseline recovery at no added cost; (b) moderate habitat restoration at medium cost levels; (c) extensive restoration actions at the highest cost levels to households. Washington households would pay a one-time $283 to moderately increase and $332 to substantially increase native salmon restoration beyond the baseline rates. Oregon’s households would pay a one-time $236 to moderately increase and $321 to substantially increase native salmon restoration. This pattern demonstrates that households in both states value increasing the rate of restoration. In addition, the Oregon results demonstrate that there is significant value of restoration even at substantial distances away from Washington’s Elwha River. Lastly, to increase the rate and spatial extent of riparian forest/wildlife habitat restoration, households in both states would pay an average one-time $257. This research demonstrates that the public values and would pay for accelerated restoration. In addition, measuring the full benefit of restoration requires that surveys not be limited to population centers immediately adjacent to the restoration site.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration