W5133: Economic Valuation and Management of Natural Resources on Public and Private Lands
(Multistate Research Project)
W5133: Economic Valuation and Management of Natural Resources on Public and Private Lands
Duration: 10/01/2022 to 09/30/2027
Statement of Issues and Justification
The core mission of the W4133 research group (and all prior iterations) has been to contribute to advances in the theory and empirical application of economic valuation of nonmarket goods and services. These values are essential inputs to decision-making for public policy that attempt to balance sustainable economic development, rural livelihoods, environmental quality, natural resource use, and conservation goals to support a variety of societal needs. The USDA, through its support of W4133 (and proposed W5133) objectives, is at the forefront in recognizing the need for the improvement of valuation methods, increasing the range of ecosystem service valuation applications, and the development and testing of policy instruments that use valuation information in efforts to efficiently allocate nonmarket ecosystem goods and services.
Since 1981 with Presidential Executive Order 12291 (Exec. Order No. 12291, 1981), benefit-cost analysis has been a key component of federal regulatory impact analysis. This has required the development of economic methods to quantify the monetary value of potential changes in ecosystem goods and services that result from economic activity and policies. Such a need was further validated in an October 2015 Memorandum for Executive Departments and Agencies that explicitly directed agencies to “develop and institutionalize policies to promote consideration of ecosystem services, where appropriate and practicable, in planning, investments, and regulatory contexts” (Memorandum 2015, p. 1). As federal land management practices and public preferences for changes in environmental quality continue to evolve, there remains a pressing need for rigorous, scientifically valid, and reliable economic estimates of value of ecosystem services to inform decision-making. Federal land management agencies are faced with challenges to sustainably manage ecosystems among many competing uses with significant economic value. Meeting these challenges requires economic information on the complete range of tradeoffs among ecosystem services associated with potential federal actions, including benefits and costs that may not be valued directly by markets. The proposed objectives of this regional multistate research project are intended to provide decision-makers in the public and private sectors with this type of information for nonmarket ecosystem services. As noted in the above referenced Memorandum (2015), such information can fill gaps in land use and planning decisions, help enhance benefits provided to society by ecosystems, and promote cost-effectiveness in investment and policy outcomes.
The W5133 project proposes to continue to provide this research support to federal decision-makers and regional stakeholders. The next five years represent a critical period to make progress on challenges related to ecosystem services provided by public and private lands. Direct and derived demand for uses of such land (e.g., agriculture, grazing, recreation, natural resource extraction) is increasing while climate change is potentially altering ecosystem service flows through increasing droughts, invasive species spread, altered wildfire regimes, and changes to the frequency and intensity of other natural hazards. Federal and regional land management decisions and environmental policy choices that seek to mitigate the impacts of climate change, improve food security, and protect ecosystems will require solid research findings that delineate the economic values of ecosystem services that are not priced in the market. Such economic research is also needed to face possible challenges to regulatory regimes designed to conserve ecosystem service values, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Endangered Species Act. At their core, many policy issues are subject to market failures when important economic values associated with policy changes are public goods in nature. Public policy regarding land, water, air quality, and other natural assets continues to evolve using more efficient economic incentive mechanisms and the success of these mechanisms lies in the ability to measure the value of natural assets and ecosystem services under changing economic and natural environments. The proposed objectives and sub-tasks for the W5133 project research over the next five years directly address these challenges.
Public and private agencies and institutions continue to express significant interest in the research information generated through this multistate research group. Stakeholders, such as the USDA Forest Service, USDA Economic Research Service, the US EPA, NOAA, and the DOI Bureau of Land Management participate in conferences and workshops on economic and social analyses organized by W4133 members, and often request information and/or collaborate directly on research involving nonmarket valuation of ecosystem goods and services. Stakeholder interest is evident from their frequent and extensive participation in W4133 annual meetings, including collaborators from the USDA Forest Service, USDA Economic Research Service, NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, US EPA, US Government Accountability Office, and private consultants, among others. W4133 research also helped shape federal and state planning and policies. Recent examples include the USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan and Resource Planning Act, USDA-EPA Workshop on Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers, NOAA Natural Resource Damage Assessments, National Park Service off-road vehicle regulations, and Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Goals. The group’s research and expertise also help direct future grant solicitations for programs within USDA, NOAA, and the EPA to address gaps in nonmarket valuation for ecosystem services.
Experiment Stations gain several advantages from participating in W4133, and the advantages will continue as W4133 becomes W5133. W5133 will bring together relevant experts from across the country while avoiding duplications of effort in the development, design, and application of statistical models and survey methods. W5133 will continue to combine complementary specialized expertise at different experiment stations and federal agencies to leverage advancements in methods and applications, such as integrating quantitative methods with empirical applications of direct relevance for our stakeholders.
The organizational infrastructure created by W5133 generates synergies in nonmarket valuation research, which would likely dissipate should this research project not be re-chartered. For our membership, this group ensures that significant research time is dedicated to these topics, leads to the formation of relationships that build collaborations to work towards the group’s objectives at a large scale, allows opportunities to present proposed methods and ideas to a wide group of experts, facilitates communication of our contributions, and helps mentor and recruit subsequent generations of researchers who want to contribute to these objectives. It also provides a venue for us to interact with and adapt our research to best meet the needs of our stakeholder agencies. Without a regional project, there will likely be duplication of research effort and fragmented gains in information due to limited resources at individual Experiment Stations. Failure to conduct proposed research would leave many federal and state agencies without information needed to evaluate the economic effects of natural resource policies and management plans for public and private lands.
Proceedings from W4133 annual meetings, agency publications, and co-authored journal articles document the sustained collaboration of and contributions by participating Experiment Stations. Advancements in theory and applications of environmental economics achieved by this project have built a sound foundation, which will enable important refinements and new empirical applications to be made by this group and other Experiment Stations and agencies over the next five years. Given that some members of participating Experiment Stations have formal extension appointments and work closely with collaborators within and outside of W4133, broad dissemination of research results to varied stakeholders occurs through public and agency workshops and cooperative extension publications.
This regional research project creates and maintains human and network capital infrastructures that can rapidly respond to requests of local, state, and federal resource managers and policy makers, enabling the evaluation of emerging policy issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Often, similar management and policy issues arise in different states. The ability of each Experiment Station's scientists to leverage the expertise of their fellow members in W4133 enables their rapid response to emerging issues through applications of the methods, survey instruments, and information originally developed by other W4133 members to address similar issues in their states. The extension of W5133 will continue to facilitate the groundbreaking research and multi-state collaborations supported by W4133 and previous charters. While extensive, each of the outputs described below is connected to W4133 through the working relationships and idea exchange that this multistate group facilitates, and a significant majority of the projects benefited from feedback received at the W4133 annual meetings.
Related, Current and Previous Work
The previous iteration of W4133 (October 2017-September 2022) focused on objectives related to (1) Resource Management, (2) Economic Valuation, and (3) Integrated Policy and Decision-Making. This section briefly reviews the significant research accomplishments arising from this multistate effort for each of these objectives and subtasks and identifies continuities with the project re-charter proposal.
Objective 1: Resource Management
Changes to global and regional markets, demographics, and climate create a challenging context for federal, state, and local stakeholders to make informed decisions about land, forest, and water resource management, safe and healthy recreation, and responses to natural and man-made disasters. The research of this multistate group during the last five years has supported our stakeholders in these contexts. W4133 members reported over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and extension publications and a variety of external funding sources to support collaborative research under this objective. These sources include USDA-NIFA, USDA-AFRI, USDA Forest Service, USGS, BLM, NSF, NOAA, the US EPA, BOEM, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Rhode Island Sea Grant, and The Nature Conservancy.
- Task 1-1: Economic Analysis of Forests, Agricultural Land, Water, Open Space and the Wildland-Urban Interface [AZ, CO, CT, GA, FL, IL, ME, MS, NC, NE, OH, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WY]
W4133 researchers at Oregon State University, Ohio State University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Georgia (UGA) collaborated with the USDA Forest Service (USFS) on economic analyses of forests. Completed projects include optimizing forest harvest under volume uncertainty (Sloggy et al. 2020), estimating climate effects on net economic returns to US forestland (Mihiar & Lewis 2021), examining how climate adaptation in forest management affects wildlife habitat for species of conservation concern (Hashida et al. 2020) and valuing services provided by pine plantations (Mutandwa et al. 2019). Northern Arizona University (NAU) led a research effort to understand willingness to pay (WTP) for forested watershed restoration (Mueller et al. 2019) with on-going work expanding into Phoenix and New Mexico in collaboration with the USGS. A collaboration of University of Maine (UME), Clark University, University of Massachusetts, Cornell University, and University of Vermont (UVM) economists developed a landowner typology that accounts for heterogeneity among private forest landowners to better understand decision-making and improve design of conservation programs (Balukas et al. 2019). This group and the University of Wyoming (UWY) examined factors influencing intergenerational transitions of forested land (Markowski-Lindsay et al. 2017; Markowski et al. 2018; Bell et al. 2018; Keske et al. 2021). Working with researchers from Ohio State University and University of Connecticut (UConn), UME economists also examined the importance of cross-scale interactions and regional context for enabling or constraining management decisions on private forest landholdings (Munroe et al. 2019). UVM research projected the responses of forests across New England to climate change, resulting in an ensemble of downscaled datasets for use in a variety of downstream impacts models (Huanping et al. 2017).
W4133 researchers from the University of Rhode Island (URI), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Pennsylvania State University, Oregon State and Ohio State also contributed to international forest conservation efforts by demonstrating how the availability of free, remotely sensed data can reduce deforestation (Mofette et al. 2021) and estimating impacts of forest conservation on the welfare of local communities (Sills et al. 2017). Applied work occurred in China (Sullivan et al. 2018; Fu et al. 2018), Nepal (Howlander & Ando 2020), Guatemala (Fortmann et al. 2017) and areas of Africa (Jacobson and Ciolkosz 2020; Chahal et al. 2020; Miteva et al. 2017).
Many W4133 researchers (Michigan State University, UIUC, Colorado State University (CSU), Ohio State, UWY) engaged with agricultural producers and collaborated on projects to better understand pesticide use (Goeb et al. 2020) and fertilizer management (Doering et al. 2018; Margenot et al. 2019). Additional work examined farmer preferences for soil carbon sequestration (Graming & Widmar 2018), participation in sustainable certification programs (Anash et el. 2020), PES programs (Bauchet et al. 2020), income changes from land use (Beher et al. 2017), pollinator habitat (Jones Ritten et al. 2017), insurance (Haruna et al. 2017) and management practices to reduce tomato blight (Liu et al. 2018). UIUC partnered with multi-state collaborators (e.g., NC-1190) to review motivations and barriers to adoption of conservation practices on agricultural land in the US (Prokopy et al. 2019) and examined land-use change under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (Wang et al. 2020). W4133 members from University of Florida (UFL), Louisiana State University (LSU), CSU and Ohio State also investigated ways to increase uptake of best management practices (BMPs) with farmers (Zhong et al. 2018; Mutyasira et al. 2018a, 2018b; Yehouenou et al. 2020). Researchers from Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State, CSU and Montana State University worked jointly to address water quality impacts of agricultural practices (Choi et al. 2020; Li et al. 2021; Lupi et al. 2020; Steinman et al. 2017), along with aspects of groundwater demand for irrigated agriculture (Trout et al. 2019; Hrozencik et al., 2017, 2021). W4133 researchers at UIUC and Mississippi State generated a national county-level open-source dataset for researchers and practitioners constructed from publicly available datasets that are difficult for many practitioners and researchers to access unless without technical data processing skills (Yun & Gramig 2019). The University of Nebraska (UNE) produced an important review of statistical tools for data analysis (Minegishi & Mieno 2020).
CSU and UNE completed projects that estimate the value of groundwater to agricultural producers across the US (Manning et al. 2017) and in the Ogallala aquifer (Lauer et al. 2018). This collaboration also produced insights into establishing tipping points in common pool resource management (Maas et al. 2017a), preferences for coordination in groundwater conservation (Shepler et al. 2019), how crop insurance subsidies have influenced groundwater use (Rouhi-Rad et al. 2021), the distributional costs of water infrastructure in the arid west (Maas et al. 2017), and the determinants of municipal water use (Maas et al. 2017b, 2020; Opalinski et al. 2020). Related work finds water scarcity can be addressed through reducing competition by retiring nearby wells and retiring land (Rouhi-Rad et al. 2019; Monger et al. 2018) or employing deficit irrigation (Manning et al. 2018). Additional work examined the importance of well yields for groundwater demand specifications and designing groundwater policies (Mieno et al. 2021; Rouhi-Rad et al. 2020). Additional work at UNE shows that groundwater allocation designs can have hydrologic and economic trade-offs (Young et al. 2020) and land under retirement programs may have lower groundwater recharge from precipitation than crop production (Riley et al. 2019).
W4133 members at Oregon State, Penn State and the University of Wisconsin (UW) examined how economic loss from an aquatic species invasion of a freshwater lake is allocated between users (Zipp et al. 2019). Michigan State estimated willingness to accept conservation easements for water quality and habitat improvements (Nohner et al. 2018). Researchers from UME and Bowdoin College analyzed institutional and community responses to changing river systems, suggesting mismatches between actual changes in river conditions and public perceptions of those changes (Johnson et al. 2017, 2018). URI, UME, and the University of New Hampshire examined trade-offs and synergies involved with coordinated dam removal (Roy et al. 2018) and impact of water quality improvements on housing prices (Liu et al. 2017).
CSU, the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), and UConn together developed a general equilibrium model to evaluate the economy-wide distributional impacts of water infrastructure projects (Zhong et al. 2019). North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the University of Maryland (UMD) continued work designed to measure WTP for improvements in water quality in wadeable streams in urbanizing watersheds. Penn State research demonstrated that the content of behavioral nudges can be better optimized to increase water conservation, particularly among lower-use households (Brent et al. 2020). A W4133 member at NAU served as an expert in water resources for the Arizona Board of Regents.
Several multi-state collaborations investigated the spatial implications of land-use change and open space. UConn, Ohio State and Penn State together examined growth spillovers from uncoordinated land use policy (Towe et al. 2017). UIUC and USFS worked together to identify the tradeoffs people are willing to make between elements of a community’s future growth trajectory (Foelske et al. 2019). UME examined landowners’ land management actions, communities’ economic development plans, and the potential for improved vernal pool conservation outcomes (Levesque et al. 2019). URI examined aggregate responses to local government provision of open space (Lang 2018) and determinants of support for open space referendum (Prendergrast et al. 2019). UGA examined the microeconomics of household food waste with major implications for misallocation of land and water resources (Landry & Smith 2019; Smith & Landry 2021). UWY examined landowner preferences for conservation easements (Bastian et al. 2017) and habitat conservation markets using experimental economics methods (Lamb et al. 2019). UFL research examined public perceptions about environmental giving for provision of ecosystem services (Jones & Bi, 2020).
W4133 research also examined economic impacts on federal land with Utah State University (USU) completing studies on the economic effects of landscape-scale National Monuments (Jakus & Akhundjanov 2018; Jakus & Akhundjanov 2019). NAU estimated preferences for restoration of springs in Grand Canyon National Park (Mueller et al., 2017). On the policy front, W4133 partners UIUC and Oregon State wrote an analytical review of research on the economics of species conservation (Ando & Langpap 2018). USU completed a review of economic benefits and costs of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program (Jakus 2018) and CSU looked at spatially varying taxation of natural resources to inform debate on appropriate taxation structure in AK (Brown et al. 2020). URI used housing market data to examine distributional impacts of federal brownfield remediation (Lang & Cavanagh 2018).
- Task 1-2: Economic Analysis of Natural and Man-made Hazards [AZ, CO, IL, MD, ME, MI, MS, NC, PA, VA]
CSU and Washington State University (WSU) collaborated to estimate the influence of threatened homes on the number of resources sent to a fire (Bayham & Yoder 2020) and show that incident commanders order resources in anticipation of changing weather conditions rather than reacting to current or past fire behavior (Bayham et al. 2020). Penn State showed that peak traffic increases the response times of first responders and monetary damages from fires (Brent and Beland 2020). NAU used matching methods to understand the impacts of post-wildfire flooding on house prices (Mueller et al. 2018).
Mississippi State and UGA collaborative research has provided a better understanding of which flood mitigation strategies communities undertake, and the extent to which these strategies accomplish FEMA goals of reducing flood risk and increasing insurance uptake (Landry et al. 2017; Ahmandiani et al. 2019; Li & Landry 2018; Frimpong et al. 2020; Laird et al. 2021), along with an analysis on housing prices of natural-hazard mitigation actions (Dahal et al. 2019). Virginia Tech and collaborators in Oregon developed a new method to estimate the impacts of a watershed improvement project on housing markets (Jarrad et al. 2018; Netusil et al. 2019a, 2019b). UIUC researchers evaluated homeowner WTP for a program to pre-commit to relocation if a flood damages their home (Ando et al. 2020) and the research has supported efforts to pilot a program in South Carolina. Collaboration of Penn State and Ohio State W4133 members produced research on how FEMA adaptation strategies affect property damages from hurricanes (Davlasheridze et al. 2017) and shows flood damages are higher in areas with higher flood insurance subsidies (Colby & Zipp 2020). Economists from UME and Clark University completed an assessment of the search for health and safety information by beach visitors (Kaminski et al. 2017) and the potential allocation of funds by citizens to distinct coastal water quality management options (Evans et al. 2017).
W4133 members at CSU and UIUC redirected research effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a natural hazard that affected almost every facet of life in 2020. CSU published several papers and reports that applied economic principles to understand the consequences of pandemic policies (Bayham & Fenichel 2020; Thompson et al. 2020; Bayham & Hill 2020) and generated outreach through dashboards and decision support tools to help communicate and manage COVID-19 risk. UIUC worked with a multi-disciplinary team to write a paper in Science evaluating the costs and possible benefits of ecological approaches to avoiding another pandemic like COVID-19 (Dobson et al. 2020).
- Task 1-3: Economic Analysis of Recreation Services [GA, IL, NC, OR, PA, RI, UT]
Estimating economic values and understanding preferences for recreation services on public land is a key component of land management and federal benefit cost analysis of policies that impact ecosystem service flows. W4133 partner institutions NC State, Michigan State and the UMD completed work on assessing the recreation impacts from natural resource damages associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (English et al. 2018, 2019). This work was instrumental in the largest settlement ever reached between the Department of Justice and a responsible party. This work generated new economic methods that will influence how future revealed preference natural resource damage assessments will be conducted (e.g., Klaiber & von Haefen 2019). Related work at URI examined the impact of offshore wind energy production on recreational activities (Carr-Harris & Lang 2019; Trandafir et al. 2020).
Researchers at USU, UGA, and Penn State engaged with issues of recreation on federal land by studying congestion and wildfires at Utah’s five National Parks (Drugova et al. 2020; Kim et al. 2019), estimating the determinants of the quantity of visits to US National Parks (Bergstrom et al. 2020) and demand for wilderness access to US National Forests (Bowker et al. 2019), and introducing a new framework combining recreational services and a benefits approach to leisure to inform management of protected areas (Rice et al. 2020a, 2020b).
Researchers from multiple institutions looked at economic impacts to recreational fishing from land use changes, pollution, and climate change. W4133 collaborators from Oregon State and NC State developed a new econometric method to estimate nonmarket recreation costs of alternative land-use management plans to protect coastal biodiversity (Dundas et al. 2018; von Haefen and Dundas 2018). Ohio State research assessed the impacts of water quality damages from harmful algal blooms (HABs) on recreational resources (Steinman et al. 2017; Mei et al. 2018; Wolf & Klaiber 2017; Wolf et al. 2017) while USU examined the impact of climate change on recreational fishing along Minnesota's North Shore (Hestestune et al. 2020). Research at the UFL investigated general preferences for water-based recreation and values specific to natural springs and rivers (Ehrlich et al. 2017; Wu et al. 2018; Bi et al. 2019). UIUC provided public service by working with the city of Chicago to develop a survey with the goal to increase recreational interactions with the Chicago River.
- Task 1-4: Economic Analysis of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation [CT, GA, ID, IL, MS, NC, OH, OR, PA, WY, VA]
Climate change continues to be a major factor affecting natural resource management and ecosystem service flows on public and private land. Researchers from eleven W4133 institutions looked at economic impacts of climate change and adaptation strategies to minimize negative outcomes. An Ohio State and Michigan State collaboration assessed climate impacts to important ecosystem services on public and private forestland ecosystems (Bocci et al. 2020; Favero et al. 2017; Kim et al. 2017; Mei et al. 2017, 2018; Srivastava et al. 2020). Oregon State, UGA, and the University of Minnesota worked together on quantifying the effect of climate change and carbon pricing on adaptation behavior of private forest owners (Hashida & Lewis 2019) and developing an auction mechanism to implement the optimal provision of ecosystem services under climate change (Lewis & Polasky 2018). UIUC and Purdue assessed the climate change impacts and adaptation in Indiana’s agricultural sector (Hodde et al. 2019) and a W4133 member at UIUC served as lead author of the agriculture chapter of a state climate change impacts assessment for Illinois.
UIUC collaborated with Reed College to review methods of estimating the values of green infrastructure to provide economists, urban planners, ecologists, and engineers with comprehensive knowledge about what is known about such benefits (Ando & Netusil 2018). Ohio State looked at potential co-benefits from green infrastructure investments in stormwater basins (Irwin et al. 2017). Group members at Ohio State and UGA collaborated on economic analyses of natural hazards associated with climate change, including assessment of effects of climate on coastal zones (Gopalakrishnan et al. 2017a, 2017b). Researchers at Oregon State provided new evidence on the economic value associated with storm protection services from different types of coastal adaptation, including green infrastructure (dunes; Dundas 2017) and grey infrastructure (coastal armoring; Dundas & Lewis 2020). Related work by Oregon State and UGA researchers suggests peer effects and policy uncertainty are significant potential drivers of future coastal armoring decisions (Beasley & Dundas 2021) with accurate predictions of the probability of armoring being critical for management of coastal land (Scyphers et al. 2019; Peterson et al. 2019). W4133 members from Boise State and Oregon State identified perverse incentives of anticipated land use policy changes related to sea-level rise (Parton & Dundas 2020).
Research at CSU looked at the relationship between temperature (Berman et al. 2020) and air pollution (Burkhardt et al. 2020) on violent behavior. A Penn State and Ohio State collaboration demonstrates how climate change-induced shifts in location choice in the U.S. is dampened by changes in wages (Fan et al. 2018). Collaborators at NC State and Oregon State estimated impacts of climate change on recreation with results suggesting extreme heat significantly reduces participation in shoreline fishing and anglers adapt to heat by shifting activities to nighttime rather than fishing less frequently (Dundas & von Haefen 2020; von Haefen 2020). Related work shows how weather data structure and non-linearities impact accurate estimation of these nonmarket values (Dundas & von Haefen 2021).
Objective 2: Economic Valuation Methods
This multistate research group is known for important contributions to the practice of nonmarket valuation. Such research grows in importance as demands rise for dollar value justifications for environmental investments. Research in this task generated knowledge about improving both revealed and stated preference valuation methods, understanding the spatial complexity of environmental valuation, and the challenges of benefit transfer methods to improve usefulness of nonmarket values to policies across space and time. W4133 members reported over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and extension publications and several external funding sources to support collaborative research under this objective (e.g., USDA-NIFA, NSF, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Oregon Sea Grant). In addition to direct collaboration, the group’s annual meeting provides crucial time for discussion, development, and improvement of these methods that benefit researchers at all AES locations.
- Task 2-1: Advances in Stated/Revealed Preference Methods [AZ, CO, FL, GA, IA, IL, LA, MI, MS, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, WI, WY, VA]
W4133 economists at NC State, Michigan State and UW collaborated on a best practices guide for the implementation of revealed preference recreational demand models for policy analysis (Lupi et al. 2020). Ohio State, Penn State, and UMD together made contributions to the development of advanced hedonic methods (Klaiber et al. 2017a; Wrenn et al. 2017). Iowa State research examined how sensitive recreational benefit estimates are to the metric used to measure water quality (Keiser 2019) and tested the stability of welfare estimate from revealed preference methods (Ji et al. 2020; Hoque et al. 2020). A Virginia Tech and Clark University collaboration resulted in a new Bayesian matching estimator for hedonic models that is less sensitive to misspecification errors and widely applicable to other contexts (Johnston & Moeltner 2019). UGA published a book chapter on experimental methods in nonmarket valuation (Landry 2017).
For stated preference work, a frequent W4133 collaborator from Clark University led a manuscript detailing contemporary guidance for stated preference methods that can be used by both researchers and practitioners to improve estimates of nonmarket values (Johnston et al. 2017). LSU and Ohio State collaborated on research examining the efficacy of approaches to mitigate hypothetical bias (Penn & Hu 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) and the design of choice experiments (Penn et al. 2019b). Mississippi State analyzed the use of valuation methods to improve estimates in environmental regulatory analysis at the US EPA (Petrolia et al. 2021). Mississippi State, Michigan State, URI, UConn, and Ohio State collaborated to make advances in attribute non-attendance (Petrolia & Hwang 2020), testing attribute value substitution and the impact of the number of attributes in choice experiments (Howard et al. 2020; Byrd et al. 2018), using the provision point mechanism (Swallow et al. 2018), and valuing goods allocated in a dynamic lottery (Reeling et al. 2020). Oregon State research demonstrated how survey data can be collected through indirect informants rather than individual households to reduce costs of many different survey applications (Alix-Garcia et al. 2021).
This research group also worked jointly on using revealed/stated preference methods in a diverse set of new applications to value residential landscape conformity (Bollinger et al. 2020; Burkhardt et al. 2021), impacts of oil and gas development (Hess et al. 2019; Boslett et al. 2019; Klaiber et al. 2017b), water quality improvements (Ando et al. 2020; Parthum & Ando 2020; Guilfoos et al. 2019), human-wildlife conflicts under PES programs (Yang et al. 2018, 2020), pollinator conservation (Penn et al., 2018, 2019a), arboretums (Trull et al. 2018), and conservation of marine species and resources (Lewis et al. 2019; Petrolia et al. 2020; Hwang et al. 2020; Gong et al. 2020).
- Task 2-2: Advances in Spatial/Environmental Nexus [IL, ME, MI, MS, NE, TN]
W4133 research from the last five years advanced understanding of spatial dynamics of land management in areas of optimal conservation targeting, the use of remote sensing data, and coastal land use. UIUC research set forth principles for optimal spatial targeting of conservation investment to reduce outcome risk (Ando et al. 2018a). Related work on multiple-objective environmental portfolio optimization (Ando et al. 2018b) is informing research by ecologists and other economists (including W4133 partners at Mississippi State) seeking to carry out such studies. Research at the University of Tennessee (UTN) analyzed different ecological-economic tradeoffs arising from spatial budget distribution for protecting ecosystem services (Soh & Cho 2019) and applied this framework where agencies need to allocate budgets for forest carbon sequestration across counties to balance competing economic objectives (Cho et al. 2019, 2021) Economists from UME, Clark, and Bowdoin College advanced a conceptual model linking economic theory to the management of small natural features on private lands (Bauer et al. 2017) and also helped facilitate broader discussions of conservation strategies for the provision of ecosystem services (Hunter et al. 2017; Calhoun et al. 2017). Penn State examined the spatial disconnect between national nutrient pollution standards and local land management decisions (Amin et al. 2020).
UNE research synthesized evidence about the opportunities and challenges for satellite-based monitoring of groundwater irrigation (Foster et al. 2020). Researchers from Michigan State collected and analyzed survey and spatial data related to the uses and values of coastal sand dune areas and provided information to the Coastal Zone Management Program of the Office of the Great Lakes. W4133 members at Mississippi State and LSU produced estimates of the value of beach condition information from the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (Petrolia et al. 2019).
- Task 2-3: Benefit Transfer Methodology [MS, RI, VA]
The W4133 annual meetings provided a testing ground for benefit transfer methods to be refined through collaborative engagement and result in improvements in benefit transfer applications to aid federal land management decisions. Virginia Tech research developed a new Bayesian Locally Weighted Meta-Regression approach to value water quality improvements because of USDA conservation efforts on agricultural lands (Moeltner 2019). This analytical framework produces more accurate benefit transfer estimates than typical one-model-fits-all strategies and was applied to a growing meta-dataset on WTP for water quality improvements and wetland conservation used by the US EPA under the CWA for decision-making (Moeltner et al. 2019). This modeling framework is now used by the US EPA to feed into the current revision of the CWA rule-making with respect to isolated wetlands across the nation's watersheds. Model code and results continue to be shared with W4133 and EPA colleagues to help derive and interpret watershed-specific results across the country. Researchers at Mississippi State aggregated and tabulated meta-data to be used in a meta-regression-based benefits transfer to estimate the value of bird populations and surface water quality across the Mississippi River basin. URI researchers investigated if environmental risk aversion increases with scale with the goal to reduce between-scale transfer errors.
Objective 3: Integrated Ecosystem Services Valuation and Management
W4133 research has made progress on advancing the theoretical underpinnings and empirical methodologies used to measure nonmarket values, leading to better integration into decision-making and policy. W4133 members reported over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and extension publications along with multiple external funding sources to support collaborative research under this objective (e.g., USDA-NIFA, USDA-NRCS, NSF, NOAA, EPA).
- Task 3-1: Decision Tools for Ecosystem Services [AZ, CO, GA, IL, MS, OR, PA, RI, WY, VA]
Virginia Tech developed a new econometric approach to process metadata on water quality and wetland conservation that is now used by the EPA for decision-making (Moeltner 2019; Moeltner et al. 2019). Oregon State collaborated on an evaluation of popular conceptions about the role of uncertainty in decision models used in environmental and resource economics (LaRiviere et al. 2018) and an analysis of unsustainable natural capital flows that often follows political boundaries rather than ecological (Sanchirico et al. 2020). An Oregon State w4133 member also provided a workshop to an international group of early-career and graduate student researchers on quantitative methods for adaptive management of natural resources for the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Penn State research resulted in an improvement in our understanding of climate change impacts through integrated modeling that captures multisector dynamics and integrated impacts across sectors (Calvin & Fisher-Vanden 2017; Fisher-Vanden & Weyant 2020; Rimsaite et al. 2021a, 2021b; Zaveri et al. 2020). An Oregon State W4133 member collaborated with natural scientists across West Coast institutions on a policy framework noting the advantages of taking a portfolio approach to climate policy that include both terrestrial and marine policy solutions (Dundas et al. 2020).
Ohio State collaborated on a conservation tool to guide the siting of forest reserves (Oakleaf et al. 2017). Oregon State estimated how the federal Northwest Forest Plan has affected the economy of nearby communities with results indicate high-skilled workers sorted into communities nearby protected lands (Chen et al. 2021). Penn State developed a systems approach to nutrient pollution management (Shortle et al. 2020, 2021), a decision tool for targeting nutrient load reduction goals (Preisendanz et al. 2020), and shared lessons learned from an initiative to engage stakeholders in solutions to nutrient pollution problems (Royer et al. 2020). UIUC participated at the EPA-USDA Workshop on Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers to address private economic conditions that would support more widespread adoption of such fertilizers. Mississippi State and UIUC developed a statistical package (Chen et al. 2020) to help researchers calculate treatment effects in an endogenous switching regression. Mississippi State designed a decision tool for oyster resource managers to estimate market and nonmarket ecosystem benefits (Petrolia et al. 2020). UGA examined subjective probabilities of exposure to catastrophic risks posed by natural hazards and explored empirical approaches incorporating structural parameters of individual choice under risk of natural hazard (Landry et al. 2021).
- Task 3-2: Watershed-scale Valuation and Management [CO, IA, IL, MS, NC, OR, RI]
Efforts to advance our understanding of the value society places on clean water is critical to informing effective and efficient environmental policies. Advancements in economic valuation methods has improved our ability to develop watershed-scale valuation and management models that analyze the important tradeoffs of costly pollution control efforts and benefits to humans and the environment. CSU, UNE and UNR W4133 members partnered on interdisciplinary efforts to model economic decisions as a function of agronomic and hydrologic conditions that producers face (Manning et al. 2018; Rad et al. 2020; Suter et al. 2021). A new stated preference method for linking a valuation function to a model of a natural system was applied to the valuation of the USDA CREP program and its impact on market and nonmarket groundwater values (Manning et al. 2020). This collective body of work has generated interest in creating a generalizable model that can anticipate areas of water stress because of climate change in the Western region. Iowa State’s work in this area outlines the current state of knowledge for integrated assessment models of air and water pollution to inform analyses of federal, state, and local regulations (Keiser & Muller 2017). URI developed an integrated assessment model for spatially simulating water quality changes and social welfare effects for recreation as a function of pollution management interventions (Uchida et al. 2018, 2019; Griffin et al. 2020). WSU produced an integrated assessment of water management in the Yakima basin. (Yoder et al. 2017) and UIUC examined technology solutions to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico (Khanna et al. 2019).
Our objectives for the next five years address newly emerging natural resource issues to our stakeholders in state and Federal agencies and to Western states, while also building on our success from prior objectives and capitalizing on our group’s research strengths. We continue to emphasize management of natural resources, economic valuation methods, and integration and application of these tools into policy and decision-making. We added focus on national and regional priorities in climate change adaptation and mitigation, water resource management, and the distributional impacts associated with resource management and nonmarket valuation.
Evaluate Natural Resource Management Decisions and the Effects of Climate Change to Understand Associated Welfare Impacts • Task 1-1: Quantify the Direct and Indirect Impacts of Management Decisions Affecting Agricultural Land, Forests, and Land Use Change • Task 1-2: Assess How Public and Private Actions Impact Water Quality and Scarcity • Task 1-3: Measure How Public and Private Actions Impact Outdoor Recreation • Task 1-4: Quantify the Economic Impacts of Natural Hazards • Task 1-5: Develop and Evaluate Strategies for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
Advance Economic Valuation Methods and Uses to Enhance Natural Resource Management, Policy, and Decision-Making • Task 2-1: Develop Innovative Stated and Revealed Preference Research Methods • Task 2-2: Assess Advances in Benefit Transfer Methods • Task 2-3: Evaluate Environmental Justice and Distributional Impacts in Nonmarket Valuation
Develop Solutions for Integration of Economic Valuation with Policy and Decision-Making • Task 3-1: Design Decision Support Tools for Managing Natural Resources, Ecosystem Services, and the Impacts of Natural Hazards • Task 3-2: Incorporate Nonmarket Valuation into Integrated Assessments of Water, Land, and Climate
A W5133 network will provide each member and federal partner with a community of co-authors and research support for the work proposed under these new objectives.
Objective 1: Evaluate Natural Resource Management Decisions and the Effects of Climate Change to Understand Associated Welfare Impacts
- Task 1-1: Quantify the Direct and Indirect Impacts of Management Decisions Affecting Agricultural Land, Forests, and Land Use Change [AZ, CO, IL, MI, MT, OH, OR, RI, SD, WY]
Beginning with a focus on agricultural land, Michigan State and CSU W5133 members are working to understand the economic drivers of rancher adoption of regenerative grazing as well as the associated economic values produced by the practice. Michigan State will estimate how conservation policies including payment levels affect cover crop adoption. Montana State will examine farmland tax assessment policy using national-level panel datasets and econometric methods to investigate the role played by such policy in the decisions of farmland owners to retain their land in agricultural use. Related work includes looking to see if Conservation Reserve Program enrollment stimulates conversion to organic farming practices and an exploration of the extent to which the financial gains from easements are reinvested into farm operations. Montana State will also leverage a national-scale database of agricultural land transactions to investigate potential sources of self-assessment bias in farmland valuation and how the use of self-reported land value estimates influences climate change impacts derived from a Ricardian method. UIUC will contribute a bio-economic models for the valuation of cover crop ecosystem services under climate change and estimating the external costs of corn and soybean insecticide seed treatments to growers of pollinator-dependent crops through their effect on honeybee colonies. South Dakota State University (SDSU) will investigate the decision-making process for how natural resource and food security professionals prioritize management goals for adaptive capacity using scoping interviews, focus group discussions and Q sort methodology.
Several W5133 researchers will collaborate on issues in forest management. Ohio State and Oregon State will assess how carbon fertilization and climate change affect natural and planted forest stocks. Researchers at Ohio State will develop novel econometric and optimization methods and approaches to examine the drivers of land use/landcover change, assess the role of forest management on ecosystem structure and function, quantify changes in forest ecosystem structure, and assess the impact of various policy and business interventions (supply chain interventions, protected areas). Oregon State and USFS will develop new econometric models of broad land-use change using the USFS’s Forest Inventory and Analysis database, an extensive plot-level panel data that has yet to be used as the basis for an econometric land-use model. The model will have the ability to separately model plantation and natural forests, providing multiple opportunities for studying market impacts on planted and natural forests, and for analyzing PES designs that differentially target such forest types. NAU and USFS plan to use a choice experiment to quantify WTP for attributes of natural springs in the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests.
In terms of the economic impacts of land use change, a Montana State and Oregon State collaboration is studying the consequences and causes of the large reduction in the U.S. land development rate that has been occurring since 2000. By analyzing long-term plot-level panel data on land-use from federal sources, this work will estimate how land development has impacted the stock of forest and agricultural land, as well as quantify the magnitude of foregone carbon emissions arising from avoided conversions of forestland. In related work, the group will conduct a nationwide study of the relationship between urbanization, climate change, and the markets for farmland and timberland, with the goal to project privately optimal land development times under alternative future scenarios. UWY expands previous research using propensity score matching methods to identify agricultural lands and natural habitats at risk of conversion to residential development. The approach will provide estimates of parcel-level conversion risk and development values. UWY will also use stated choice and induced value experiments to investigate the market for habitat conservation and how additional risk mitigation strategies such as insurance could improve conservation outcomes. URI researchers will examine how land use decisions regarding the siting of renewable energy impact welfare using both revealed (hedonics) and stated preference (choice experiment) approaches.
The assessment of the earth’s forests, air, and water is increasingly being done via remotely sensed methods, often using data coming from sensors mounted on satellites. However, our understanding of how to use this data to accurately quantify resources, and the challenge of using this information in typical economic analysis that relies on statistical approaches, is very weak. Researchers at Oregon State will study the effects of measurement error in satellite-based data on causal inference, include bias and precision, and the impacts of aggregating this data over space and time on standard economic analysis tools.
- Task 1-2: Assess How Public and Private Actions Impact Water Quality and Scarcity [CO, KS, MI, NC, NV, OH, WY]
Researchers in several states will carry out complementary and collaborative research on water resources. CSU is collaborating with other W5133 members and affiliates (e.g., NV, KS) to study the efficiency of alternative water allocation rules for adapting to water scarcity. Methods used include hedonic valuation of water reliability, integrated modeling that builds institutions, economic decisions, and value into water allocation models, and theoretical approaches that examine the conditions in which alternative allocation rules become preferred. UWY intends to investigate water demand management in the Colorado Basin and examine opportunities to use meta-analysis and other benefits measures for demand management assessment. NC State will continue original data collection through surveys to provide a more complete picture of use and nonuse benefits of water quality improvements. Ohio State will conduct survey and empirical research to examine the drivers of water quality certification adoption among farmers and deploy new data sources and empirical techniques to quantify the impact of agricultural BMPs on water quality in Midwestern watersheds. Michigan State researchers are developing an integrated assessment model linking farmer nutrient management practices to downstream aquatic ecosystem services and values.
- Task 1-3: Measure How Public and Private Actions Impact Outdoor Recreation [ME, MI, NC, OH, OR, VA, WY]
Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and Ohio State W5133 partners will examine the impact of HABs on recreation, tourism, and real estate. Virginia Tech will continue research on red tides in FL investigating the role of improved forecasting in recreation behavior and developing a large-scale beach recreation model, along with using hedonics to investigate impacts on vacation rental prices. Ohio State will collaborate with Michigan State to estimate how HABs and bacterial exceedances in the Great Lakes affect beach visitation and value. Collaborators at NC State, Michigan State, and Oregon State will estimate relationship between outdoor recreation and pollution (air & water) and the implications of congestion on recreation behavior and welfare using newly developed modeling approaches. Ohio State research will estimate the value of various outdoor recreational activities in OH using intercept surveys, a statewide survey of Ohio anglers and historical creel survey of the Lake Erie fishery. UME researchers will develop outdoor recreation demand models and update information on recreation behaviors to improve understanding of changes in recreation decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic and to inform future natural resource investment decisions.
Michigan State planned research includes relating recreational fishing demand and values to public management and stocking decisions, linking land and habitat management to the demand for big game hunting, modeling hunter demand for small game, and modeling waterfowl hunting. UWY plans to value state recreational trails usage using surveys related to snowmobiling and off-road vehicle usage and investigate how shocks like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic impact trails usage and related welfare values. Oregon State research on outdoor recreation includes a planned analysis of social media impacts on visitation to state parks and US National Parks, along with estimating the welfare impacts of COVID-19 restrictions.
- Task 1-4: Quantify the Economic Impacts of Natural Hazards [CO, IL, OH, OR, PA, SD]
Research under this task will develop knowledge and tools related to valuation, communication and risk management that will be broadly applicable across multiple hazards. Penn State, UIUC and Purdue will use and extend previously developed coupled human-earth system models with new work aimed at understanding human and institutional responses to hazards in conjunction with the quantification and characterization of hazards. A particular focus is to identify, characterize, and compare risk management strategies and adaptive measures and their implications for systems resilience which will be useful to local, regional, and national stakeholders and policymakers. SDSU will determine if and under what conditions policies can increase resilience in communities and natural landscapes. This research will leverage our understanding of weather shocks, social context, and decision-making processes to better understand which policies are most effective in creating a more resilient food system.
Oregon State is analyzing the impacts of western wildfires on the market for commercial timberland by compiling data on all recent timberland transactions and estimating how land prices have been impacted by fire outcomes that have occurred near the transacted land. A primary goal of this research is to identify how timberland markets respond to the rapidly changing wildfire risk that has been linked to climate change, including any potential economic costs or benefits. Research at CSU will focus on measuring the effects of suppression during the wildfire event as well as preventative measures on wildfire damages to valued assets. Researchers at CSU will also continue to work on quantifying the impacts of drought while examining strategies for adapting to increased drought frequency. Specific methods used include econometric analyses that merge new measures of drought with economic outcomes related to both agricultural and non-agricultural impacts. Ohio State will examine the impact of natural hazards capitalized in real estate markets and in migration behavior in coastal and inland regions. Research will focus on understanding the effect of hazards on human mobility and the demographic composition at the community level and the implications of feedbacks between climate adaptation and the built environment on vulnerability. Oregon State research will quantify tsunami risk in housing markets by exploiting various risk signals. This project will use new difference-in-differences approaches to staggered treatment timing and apply results to scenario-based planning to improve coastal resilience policy options.
- Task 1-5: Develop and Evaluate Strategies for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation [CO, GA, IL, MI, NC, OH, OR, WY]
Oregon State, UGA and USFS collaborators aim to estimate the economic damages from climate change on Pacific Northwest timberland by developing a discrete-choice econometric approach with plot-level data on timber management choices and rents. A related project aims to estimate the effects of climatic barriers on adaptation in forestry across the eastern U.S., focusing on the option values that arise from uncertainty over future climates. Researchers at Ohio State will develop methods to estimate the cost of abating carbon emissions and climate change mitigation via afforestation, forest management, reforestation and avoided deforestation. UME research plans to inform the development and evaluation of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, with a focus on assisting smaller, rural communities.
W5133 Researchers at UIUC, Purdue, Oregon State, and UWY will seek to improve species conservation planning methods that work well in the face of climate change. First, they will develop conservation portfolio methods to allow investments in stewardship activities that mitigate the effects of climate change on habitat. Second, they will study how pop-up conservation tools used to support endangered migratory species can be used to adapt conservation efforts to the changing climate.
NC State, Oregon State and UGA W5133 members will collaborate on applications of revealed preference methods to valuing ecosystem services impacted by climate change and coastal adaptation policies, including managed retreat. Oregon State is also working on an interdisciplinary problem to help prioritize economic investment in climate adaptation options for US Highway 101 that accounts for coastal ecosystem services. Ohio State will examine the impact of climate adaptation investments on economic behavior and housing market development patterns following natural disasters with emphasis on the demographic composition of communities leading up to and following disasters. They will also examine the potential unintended consequences of coastal climate adaptation strategies and cascading effects of feedbacks between human and natural dynamics across space and time. At Oregon State, work is on-going looking at the vulnerability to ocean acidification among Pacific Northwest mussel and oyster stakeholders and an evaluation of mitigation strategies for HABs in the west coast Dungeness crab fishery.
Objective 2: Advance Economic Valuation Methods and Uses to Enhance Natural Resource Management, Policy, and Decision-Making
This multistate community of researchers will generate knowledge about fundamental methods and issues in valuation research with applications to important non-market goods. Additional focus is added in this proposal on understanding the distributional impacts of nonmarket valuation.
- Task 2-1: Develop Innovative Stated and Revealed Preference Research Methods [CO, IL, MI, RI, OH, OR, VA]
Virginia Tech will advance generalizing choice models in a nonparametric/Bayesian framework to circumvent distributional assumptions as would be needed for more traditional models. Michigan State will conduct comparative tests of revealed and stated preference non-market valuation estimates based upon online convenience sample sources (e.g., Qualtrics) versus more expensive general population probability-based samples to assess whether the lower cost and faster sampling approaches deliver comparable valuation estimates.
CSU and UIUC W5133 partners are working on valuing ecosystem services provided to agricultural producers. They are developing a welfare-based method using land rental market data to estimate the value of an ecosystem service with spatial spillovers, with an application to estimate the costs of bat population crashes. CSU, URI, Oregon State, Boise State and US EPA researchers will work on leveraging new mobile-device data sources to quantify recreation site visits. In principle, these data can be used to estimate values and substitution across almost any site with consistent data coverage. Projects planned include using this data to determine the value of beach recreation as a climate adaptation strategy to heat waves and wildfire smoke, estimating visitation to Rocky Mountain National Park and assessing impacts of recent improvements in water quality on recreational beach use in Narragansett Bay, RI. Ohio State research will develop novel methods to estimate the impact of state and federal scenic river designation on house values.
An Oregon State and NOAA Fisheries collaboration is developing methods to use stated preference results to value conservation scenarios for threatened species. One method uses survey evidence to identify the current marginal benefit of an increment in salmon abundance along with the rate used to discount future changes in abundance. A second method will integrate nonmarket value estimates of salmon with estimates of how abundance responds to conservation actions that preserve riparian forests from timber harvest and convert farmland to tidal wetlands. The resulting integrated methods aim to construct the first estimates of the economic value of conserving land for threatened species recovery. Oregon State W5133 researchers are also working on two stated preference analyses of the nonmarket benefits arising from investing in coastal natural infrastructure. The first choice experiment will quantify WTP for ecosystem services that arise from dune restoration activities and the second will estimate WTP for beach access and safety under different coastal management policies. Results from both surveys will be used in integrated analyses of efficient natural infrastructure investment strategies. URI will examine how price perceptions of public good voting referendums influence vote choices. Every year, millions of Americans directly vote to authorize billions of dollars in public spending for schools, infrastructure, and the environment, but do the mechanisms that supply public goods match preferences of constituents? This will be assessed using a survey of voters to understand the accuracy of understanding of referendum costs and how vote choice is influenced by misperception.
- Task 2-2: Assess Advances in Benefit Transfer Methods [OH, VA]
Virginia Tech researchers will continue to refine a newly developed meta-regression model within the context of water quality improvements in selected watersheds. These refinements include searching for optimal local weights and developing methods for optimal use of regression output for benefit transfer. Applications of this approach will include water quality related to USDA conservation efforts and wetlands. Ohio State research will draw on benefit transfer approaches to quantify the value of ecosystem services at new locations to inform policy, including for natural lands in OH to prepare a bi-annual report on the value of ecosystem services for the state.
- Task 2-3: Evaluate Environmental Justice and Distributional Impacts in Nonmarket Valuation [AZ, IL, ME, MI, OH, PA, RI]
This new task arises from calls to improve the use of nonmarket valuation methods to account for the role of wealth in influencing measures of environmental values. W5133 partner institutions UIUC, UME, URI, and the minority-serving NAU will collaborate to study issues related to environmental justice in nonmarket valuation. Techniques have not been developed to take account of structural inequities in income and wealth that affect how all valuation techniques represent the strength of minority people’s preferences for environmental goods. Furthermore, tools like hedonic analysis and travel cost studies can be biased by ignoring racialized barriers to choice of housing and recreational sites. The W5133 team will develop and pilot test new approaches to valuation that address these concerns. UIUC and URI will examine distributional impacts of land conservation. First, they will examine how the financial benefits of land conservation as mediated through the housing market are distributed across household types using hedonic methods and socioeconomic data from mortgage applications. Second, they will develop a survey that seeks to understand how different socioeconomic groups benefit from conservation and the attributes of conserved land most valued by different groups. UME will lead efforts to investigate variation in access to and use of different public recreation areas using new data streams to recreation demand models and assess the distributional impacts from changes in the management, attributes, and environmental quality of these areas. Furthermore, NAU is leading a multistate effort to evaluate environmental justice and distributional impacts in nonmarket valuation by hosting a collaborative workshop to advance knowledge of the economic responses to pandemics in minority communities, with a focus on environmental and racial equity in valuation methods.
Using information on water quality improvements in the Great Lakes region, researchers from Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State will work to estimate heterogeneity across demographic groups in terms of their WTP for environmental water quality improvements. As climate change is expected to result in degraded water quality in the Great Lakes region, this research provides the empirical underpinnings necessary to plan for large-scale interventions to maintain and improve water quality. Researchers at Ohio State will also examine the spatial correlation between costs of climate change mitigation via reforestation and avoided deforestation, ecosystem service provision, poverty, conflict, and migration.
Objective 3: Develop Solutions for Integration of Economic Valuation with Policy and Decision-Making
Researchers in the W5133 group will contribute to growing knowledge at the intersection of valuation, policy, and management and improving decision support tools that need nonmarket values as key inputs.
- Task 3-1: Design Decision Support Tools for Managing Natural Resources, Ecosystem Services, and the Impacts of Natural Hazards [AZ, IL, ME, OR, RI, TN]
W5133 researchers at Oregon State are collaborating with interdisciplinary colleagues across Western states on a regional project to help Pacific Northwest coastal communities achieve resilience to acute (e.g., tsunamis, landslides) and chronic risks (e.g., coastal erosion, sea-level rise). The goal is to integrate ecosystem service values with indigenous ecological knowledge to inform scenario planning and develop decision support tools for communities to increase hazard resilience. UME researchers will work collaboratively with multistate colleagues and stakeholders to inform the design and development of decision support tools for managing natural resources and the impacts of natural hazards, with initial work focusing on tools linked with changing coastal and forest conditions in ME. URI will continue to develop a regional decision support tool to improve management of mangrove forests for ecosystem services and reducing sources of chronic poverty. NAU will develop and disseminate management scenarios that incorporate nonmarket values natural springs in Coconino and Kaibab National Forests.
Climate and land use change are major threats to biodiversity persistence. In response to these and other concerns, the National Climate Task Force recently laid out a conservation strategy for achieving a goal of protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. A key challenge is how to deal with uncertainties associated with both climate and land use change that make investments in conservation risky. Researchers at the University of Tennessee will address the limitations of a static Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) approach in conservation planning by developing a dynamic counterpart that will determine a time series of portfolios of target sites for biodiversity conservation. The conservation strategy identified by this model will hedge risk over geographic locations and time, and use approaches calibrated to real-world situations about the fiscal and contractual flexibility faced by different conservation agencies (e.g., USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program). UIUC will examine optimizing pest management to increase the resiliency of local food systems using bioeconomic modeling of natural pest predation to produce a decision-support tool that finds the optimal timing and intensity of natural enemy release.
- Task 3-2: Incorporate Nonmarket Valuation into Integrated Assessments of Water, Land, and Climate [AZ, CO, MI, OR]
A CSU and Michigan State W5133 collaboration plans to examine the social soil health benefits of grazing management by developing coupled models of how rancher’s decisions and regenerative grazing affect climate and other off-ranch ecosystem service values. An integrated assessment model, combined with survey experiments, will inform the design of incentive programs that align the private and social benefits of soil management. NAU will incorporate nonmarket valuation and air quality assessments into a collaborative interdisciplinary effort estimating WTP for alternative heating methods to improve air quality in Alaska. Michigan State researchers are developing an integrated assessment model to estimates the social costs of agricultural nutrient pollution to freshwater aquatic ecosystems under various climate scenarios.
Oregon State is working on an interdisciplinary project to assess climate-related risk and adaptation options for water suppliers dependent on surface water and subject to stream flow requirements for endangered salmon runs. The work will develop a model using existing water supply, pricing, and consumption data integrated with climate change projections and streamflow data to simulate the impact of future water shortages and demonstrate tradeoffs between multiple potential adaptation measures (e.g., storage investments). A second interdisciplinary project at Oregon State will estimate values for ecosystem services provided by beaches and dunes and develop policy scenarios for optimizing coastal management based on those valuations. Management scenarios will be developed with stakeholders to identify realistic climate resilient adaptation pathways that aim to optimize ecosystem service production and economic returns.
Measurement of Progress and Results
- The results of the joint multistate research conducted by W5133 members and collaborators will include: • Economic evaluations of natural resource management decisions on public and private lands with specific emphasis on agricultural and forested lands and implications for outdoor recreation and water quality and quantity. • Economic evaluations of the effects of climate change on ecosystem services, outdoor recreation, and water scarcity. • Development of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for public and private land managers. • A broad set of empirical estimates of non-market values of agricultural land and open space, ecosystem services, and risk management strategies for fire, invasive species, and natural hazards, multiple recreation activities for different regions, water quality and quantity, and related estimated demand and benefit functions. • Estimates of the environmental justice and distributional impacts of current nonmarket valuation methods. • Improvements in primary valuation and benefit transfer methods. • Development of decision support tools for natural resource managers and policymakers. These outputs will be detailed in peer-reviewed journal articles, project reports, and W5133 proceedings. The raw data, databases, benefit and demand functions, and statistical programs, when permissible, will be made available to stakeholders (e.g., state and federal agencies, land trusts) via a W5133 website that links to participating members’ websites (https://www.nimss.org/projects/18858).
Outcomes or Projected Impacts
- Results of this multistate research project will improve federal, state, local, and private institutional decision-making with respect to managing public and private lands by (a) providing estimates of important nonmarket values of attributes of such land (e.g., ecosystem services) (b) providing decision makers with information and tools to adapt to and mitigate climate risks, (c) reducing risks associated with natural hazards such as fire and invasive species, and (d) understanding recreation opportunities for society. This project will also serve the broader discipline of environmental and natural resource economics by refining and developing state-of-the-art valuation methods and providing databases of readily used “off the shelf” values of nonmarket ecosystem services including recreation, open space, and water quality to use in benefit transfer applications and benefit-cost analysis. Achievement of these outcomes will reduce regulatory delay, unnecessary litigation, and suboptimal resource allocations for public agencies and private institutions. This will be done by providing estimates of the economic benefits associated with ecosystem and other land management programs and strategies that will allow public agencies and private institutions to minimize the cost and time of conducting original studies. Agencies will be able to complete land and resource management plans and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) more quickly and at lower cost due to the greater availability of proven methods and extensive existing empirical values for use in these agencies benefit transfers. This information will be easily accessed via the W5133 website (https://www.nimss.org/projects/18858).
Milestones(2023):Years 1 and 2: An annual meeting will be organized to bring together primary researchers and collaborators to discuss, compare, and present details of the various tasks within this research project. A significant portion of this research project across all objectives relies on extensive data collection. Data collection will be conducted through collaboration among members and participating organizations and agencies. Data collection consists of secondary data sources (existing databases) and primary data collection through surveys. In some cases, members may work on advancing economic theory in which case theoretical models will be developed through member collaboration and shared for review at the annual meeting. These annual meetings will also work on improving the development of impact statements to communicate the reach of research activities conducted by the group.
(2025):Year 3: Theoretical models and advancements on empirical methods will be finalized. Focus groups, where needed, will be conducted to test primary data collection instruments, and pilot tests completed. Secondary data sources will be identified, collected, and shared among collaborators. Initial statistical models (stated and revealed preference models as well as spatial models) will be jointly developed and estimated, and preliminary results shared with stakeholders at annual meetings and in annual proceedings. Suggestions from members and stakeholders to enhance valuation models, applications, and data collection will be discussed for inclusion in final models and data collection efforts. Members will present preliminary results at scholarly conferences for wider review and several coauthored manuscripts will be in review at peer-reviewed outlets.
(2026):Year 4: Members will emphasize dissemination of results to a broader audience, including scholarly venues, workshops, stakeholder engagement events, and state and federal agency decision-makers. Outcomes from this research will be detailed in documents in the form of reports, submitted manuscripts, workshops for agencies, professional meetings, and extension publications by participating members available via links on the W5133 website (https://www.nimss.org/projects/18858).
(2027):Year 5: Several manuscripts will have been accepted for publication for each of the objectives and sub-tasks. Many more will be in various stages of revision for publication. Feedback from the previous year's workshops for stakeholders and agencies will be incorporated into workshops held in the fifth year. An annual meeting report along with a proceeding from presentations at the meeting will be provided, each detailing work-in-progress, accomplishments, and areas for further research.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
We will follow revised standard NIMSS governance procedures. The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities includes the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected and will serve in leadership roles for a minimum of 2 years to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA Representative. Specifically, the group elects a Secretary at the annual meeting, who then becomes Chair-elect and then Chair in the following two years. The Secretary is responsible for meeting registration and minutes of the meeting. The Chair-elect and Chair help to coordinate research of participating schools and agencies among the objectives. They also arrange the annual meeting location and agenda with input from participants at the business meeting to facilitate achievement of the objectives.
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