A Benefit-Cost Analysis of the Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project

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). 

This report presents a benefit-cost analysis of the MBPERP. To assess the impacts of the project, Earth Economics estimates the park’s environmental, recreational, educational, and economic value following completion of the MBPERP. These results are compared against a no action scenario. Our analysis reveals that investing in the MBPERP would result in net gains for Snohomish County. The $60.9 million in public benefits anticipated from the project over the next 100 years far outweigh the $14 million in estimated construction costs, resulting in a benefit-cost ratio of 4.35 when using a 2.5 percent discount rate. In other words, Snohomish County can expect about $4.35 in public benefits for every dollar it invests in the MBPERP.

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