Nature’s Value in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Nature’s Value in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Meadowdale Beach Park is a natural asset that provides a broad range of public benefits to Snohomish County residents. The ecosystems provide habitat for an array of species, the trails and beach are a huge draw for recreational visitors, and the park setting supports a variety of environmental and recreation-based education programs for groups who incorporate park visits into their curriculum. However, the lower park is also frequently flooded and beach access cut off due to the railroad embankment and under-sized box culvert; the only passageway between upland park areas and the beach. To enhance public safety, address maintenance and flooding issues, and restore natural sediment processes and habitat critical for native species, including Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed Chinook salmon, Snohomish County Parks and Recreation lead a collaborative effort to put forth an alternative park design, the Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project (MBPERP).
The South Platte Natural Capital Assessment is a collaborative natural capital assessment involving over 50 public and private stakeholders. The goal of the partnership is to engage stakeholders in protecting and restoring the watershed's lands and waters. For this report the team catalogued existing data sources, identified the most important natural assets, mapped natural capital, and valued the ecosystem services produced throughout the watershed. A decision-support tool was produced to assist stakeholders with prioritizing future investments, whether for preservation or conservation.
This report suggests that the Watershed provides extensive value, approximately $7.4 billion per year in ecosystem services, to the economy and residents.
Benefit-cost analysis can be used to tie together various stakeholder interests and perspectives in a single comprehensive analysis. Snohomish County and the Sustainable Lands Strategy stakeholders are currently considering several courses of action that address floodplain management in the Lower Skykomish reach. Earth Economics has been asked to provide a holistic benefit-cost analysis framework that incorporates benefits and costs associated with economic, environmental, and social impacts to be used as a decision support tool. A holistic benefit-cost analysis is key to advancing the SLS goals of safeguarding the agricultural sector, restoring and protecting salmon habitat, and reducing flood damage.
This report values some of the ecosystem goods and services provided by the Lower Skykomish Reach and the Braided Reach, including their associated sub-basins, in the Snohomish Watershed in Western Washington State. Our analysis reveals that the combined ecosystems of the Lower Skykomish and Braided Reach provide between $888 million and $1.6 billion in economic value every year. In present terms, the Lower Skykomish Reach and the Braided Reach are valued between $89 billion and $166 billion when considering a 100-year timeframe.
This report describes many of the benefits and costs associated with snow and snowpack, with a focus on the Upper Colorado Basin (UCB). We explore some of the ecological and economic changes that can be expected from climate shifts, and discuss their significance throughout the UCB and beyond. We point to a few policy responses that are attempting to mitigate and adapt to the risks associated with decreasing snowpack and water flows.
The Columbia River Basin is an abundant watershed, supporting immense forests, the largest salmon runs in the world, and diverse and abundant wildlife. These natural resources benefit our region with sustainable food, jobs, recreation, clean water, and a healthier environment, among many others. Yet, these natural resources have been seriously degraded by dams and other developments in the basin. When assets, whether built or natural, are not managed sustainably, economic loss occurs.
The Value of Natural Capital in the Columbia River Basin report shows the immense economic value of the Columbia River Basin’s natural assets and provides clear evidence of the increased value that can be gained by addressing ecosystem-based function in the Columbia River Basin river management.
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA) requested this comprehensive cost analysis of the September 2016 Loma Fire in Santa Clara County to better understand the challenge and to begin a discussion about changes in policy and stewardship that would reduce the scale and cost of future wildfire events.
The abundant natural capital of the watershed of San Juan Bay Estuary is a critical part of the regional ecosystem and economy. The wetlands and mangroves of the coastline around the city of San Juan support rich biodiversity, erosion control, and moderate flood events. This first-ever Ecosystem Services Valuation of the watershed finds that its natural capital contributes $14 million to $61 million in ecosystem service benefits each year, around 33 percent of which are provided within San Juan’s municipal jurisdiction. Over a 100 year period at a three percent discount rate, this amounts to an annual asset value of between $447 million and $1.9 billion. With stewardship to maintain the health and function of that natural capital, this annual economic contribution can continue in perpetuity.
Accurate accounting is essential for sound decision-making by the public, policymakers, and investors. High-quality accounting standards are also essential to the efficient functioning of our capital markets. Currently, accounting standards do not address natural assets such as watersheds, aquifers, or other green infrastructure, even though these can often be among an agency’s most important assets. Earth Economics prepared this report for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and their Advisory Council (GASAC), proposing a sequence of steps the GASB can take to address natural resources in accounting, ranging from clarifying existing accounting rules to developing new accounting rules.