Cost-effectiveness analysis for endangered and threatened Snake River salmon recovery planning Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/np193c23g

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  • This thesis addresses the costs of implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the particular case of Snake River chinook salmon. Unlike most previous listings under the act, restoration of Snake River salmon will have impacts on a very broad array of industries and user groups over a region that spans several states and crosses international boundaries. It is indeed projected that the potential economic effects of salmon recovery will outweigh those of every other species listing under the ESA put together. While the case of Snake River salmon may not be entirely representative of ESA listings in general, it is an important test case for economic analysis of species recovery. What is particularly notable about the ESA is the unequivocalness of its mandate: take no action that further threatens an identified species, and take all action necessary to restore the population to a level at which its survival is assured. Upon implementation, however, it becomes immediately obvious that absolute certainty is unattainable, at any cost, and that resources for restoration are indeed limited. Thus arises the question of how to balance cost against risk of extinction. While the explicit balancing of costs and benefits of species recovery is (at least presently) essentially forbidden under the Act, the increasing marginal cost of further increments of risk reduction makes the consideration of the economics of species recovery unavoidable.The approach taken in this thesis is to define a cost effectiveness frontier which identifies the least cost recovery alternatives for each incremental decrease in risk of extinction, i.e define cost as a function of probability of survival. Monte-carlo simulations using a set of salmon life-cycle models are employed to assess the probability of survival achievable under a broad range of recovery alternatives. Alternatives range from elimination of sport and commercial harvest of Snake River chinook, alternative operation of hydropower facilities in the Snake and Columbia Basins, including removal of one or more dams on the Snake River, increased barge transportation of outmigrating juvenile salmon, improvement in upstream passage and spawning habitat, and a number of others. The alternatives considered span a range of costs and degrees of political acceptability. Cost assessments are largely gathered from ongoing federal and state planning analyses and include both direct and indirect costs of implementation. In addition to the level of costs under each alternative, this analysis also addresses the distribution of economic impacts across different user groups in the Columbia and Snake River Basin.
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