Efficient and effective climate policies require cost estimates supported by empirical analysis at multiple spatial scales. Fine-scale spatial analysis of climate impacts for rural land markets represents a gap in the current climate change economics literature. In this dissertation I estimate relationships between climate, risk and parcel-level land values for rural land markets across the state of Oregon. With these estimates I explore the effect of climate change on the value of private forestland, the relationship between wildfire risk, climate, and public forest management, and the effect of natural and human-caused shoreline change along estuaries and tidal rivers on Oregon’s coastline.
Chapter 1 estimates a parcel-level forest Ricardian price function for productive timberland across Oregon State. These estimated marginal effect of climate on forestland value are then linked with future climate projections to analyze the overall effect and spatial pattern of climate change on private forestland value. Results indicate climate damages will vary across the state, with warmer and wetter forests increasing in value and colder, drier forests decreasing in value. This study presents the first empirical assessment of climate’s effect on individual forestland parcels in the United States and provides foundational empirical evidence of climate’s heterogeneous effect on timber land values.
In Chapter 2 I extend the Ricardian Forestry model developed in Chapter 1 to empirically estimate the effect of climate change and fire risk on private forest land values in Oregon based on spatial proximity to publicly managed forests. I explore a policy scenario in which public forests are managed like private forests in order to mitigate the effects of increasing fire risk under climate change. I find a significant risk effect of proximity to public forests, but one that varies spatially across the state based on local precipitation levels. Altering public forest management has positive benefits for adjacent private forests, but these benefits also vary spatially with precipitation. My novel dataset allows empirical analysis of this issue, evidence of which is currently missing from the climate change economics literature. In addition, this work provides a framework with which to evaluate how changes in public forest management effect the value of adjacent private forestland. This is an important policy question in the West, where catastrophic fire seasons are becoming the norm and limited management budgets must be allocated between often competing priorities.
In Chapter 3 I exploit the discontinuous risk between shoreline and nearshore parcels to estimate the implicit price of shoreline for agricultural and rural single-family residential land markets on Oregon’s estuaries and tidal rivers. Using this functional link, I simulate the land market effect of natural and human-caused shoreline change on land markets adjacent to estuary and near-coastal shorelines in Tillamook county, Oregon. I find a negative shoreline premium for both agricultural and single-family residential land markets near estuarine and freshwater coastal shorelines, but one that is small when considering the total economic effect of shoreline change on these land markets. This is the first empirical assessment of estuary restoration on West Coast land markets, providing foundational empirical evidence for the economic relationship between marine habitat restoration and human systems. Parcel-level analysis also allows for spatially explicit economic impact assessment, providing valuable information conspicuously missing from current restoration policy. This is also the first analysis exploring the relationship between sea level rise risk and near-coastal land values in Oregon and provides a starting framework with which to explore these effects on near-coastal land markets.