A bioeconomic analysis of altering instream flows anadromous fish production and competing demands for water in the John Day River basin, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/m039k772s

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  • The growing demand for water in the arid regions of the West increases the need for optimal allocation of water among competing uses. An efficient allocation of water between instream and out-of-stream uses has been impeded by institutional constraints and the scarcity of information regarding instream flow benefits. The objectives of this thesis were to provide preliminary economic data on the value of instream water in "producing" recreational fishing and to examine the effect of forestry, agriculture, and livestock practices on temporal streamflow patterns and anadromous fish production. The steelhead trout (Salmo gairdneri) sport fishery within the John Day River basin in north-central Oregon provided the setting for this research. The interdisciplinary methodology employed in estimating the marginal value of water with respect to steelhead production consisted of two tasks. The first task involved valuing a marginal change in the quality of the steelhead recreational fishery. The contingent valuation method (CVM) was selected for this purpose. Both open- and closed-ended willingness-to-pay (WTP) questions were included in a questionnaire administered to John Day River steelhead anglers during the 1986/87 steelhead fishing season. Survey data were analyzed to arrive at individual and aggregate bid functions relating WTP to expected angling success rates. Results indicate that, under current conditions, the average angler is willing to pay approximately $7.20 to catch an additional steelhead. The second task of the instream water valuation methodology was directed at deriving a streamflow/steelhead production relationship. By including variables influencing steelhead production in a Ricker stock-recruitment model, it was possible to develop a model which could be estimated using linear regression techniques. Some difficulty arose, however, with interpretation of the model due to the unavailability of cohort escapement data and the subsequent use of standing crop data. While possibly masking the true magnitude of streamflow's effect on fish production, this drawback was not deemed limiting within the general context of the interdisciplinary methodology. Results of the biological model conformed to a priori expectations. Increases in summer and winter streamflows led to increased steelhead survival, whereas higher spring flows increased mortality levels. Other results indicate that the John Day Dam was responsible for a 31.5 percent decline in the population index for the 1969-1983 period. Combining the economic and biological results into one equation yielded an estimate of the marginal value of summer instream water in "producing" recreational steelhead angling. Similar equations were developed for winter and spring flows. The marginal value of water in producing recreational steelhead fishing within the John Day basin was estimated at $0.56 per acre-foot for summer flows, $0.046 for winter flows, and -$0.075 for spring flows. By including out-of-basin benefits, these values increased to $2.26, $0.19, and -$0.30, respectively. In comparison, water's value in irrigation within the John Day basin has been estimated at between $10 to $24 per acre-foot. However, nonuse values of steelhead, as well as the increased production of other fish species (such as spring chinook salmon) were not included in the instream water values. In addition, no attempt was made at valuing instream water's contribution to boating, camping, or other benefit-producing activities. A secondary objective of this thesis was to briefly examine the possible benefits accruing to other instream and out-of-stream users due to an alteration in streamflow patterns. In addition, the impact of activities by other resource users -- namely forestry, agriculture, and livestock production --on anadromous fish production was reviewed. Improper management practices by these activities can negatively impact the aquatic and riparian ecosystems. While no firm conclusions were drawn, it appears the quality of these ecosystems, as opposed to the amount of streamflow, has the largest marginal impact on anadromous fish populations.
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