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B-1245, Toward a More Comprehensive Valuation of Western Rangelands

B-1245, Toward a More Comprehensive Valuation of Western Rangelands

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There are many challenges to accurately estimating the comprehensive values of western rangelands. The estimates in this report represent one approach, using publicly available data, to further explore the diverse values of western rangelands. Given the many caveats and limitations discussed above, these estimates should be applied cautiously. Nonetheless, even our most conservative estimate suggests that the true value of western rangelands extends beyond the value associated with livestock forage. On average across the western states, forage for livestock represents 32-63 percent of our estimated comprehensive rangeland values. Considering forage values alone would therefore systematically underestimate the true value of rangelands. Policy decisions that depend upon estimates of rangeland value are likely to error significantly if they do not include a more comprehensive measure of rangeland values. Moreover, policies designed using limited value estimates (e.g., only forage values) may create unintended consequences by negatively affecting comprehensive rangeland values.
There are many challenges to accurately estimating the comprehensive values of western rangelands. The estimates in this report represent one approach, using publicly available data, to further explore the diverse values of western rangelands. Given the many caveats and limitations discussed above, these estimates should be applied cautiously. Nonetheless, even our most conservative estimate suggests that the true value of western rangelands extends beyond the value associated with livestock forage. On average across the western states, forage for livestock represents 32-63 percent of our estimated comprehensive rangeland values. Considering forage values alone would therefore systematically underestimate the true value of rangelands. Policy decisions that depend upon estimates of rangeland value are likely to error significantly if they do not include a more comprehensive measure of rangeland values. Moreover, policies designed using limited value estimates (e.g., only forage values) may create unintended consequences by negatively affecting comprehensive rangeland values.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: University of Wyoming Extension on Jul 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/24/2013

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Benjamin S. Rashord
 
 Alexandre V. Latchininsky 
 
 John P. Ritten
B-1245February 2013
 
 
Authors:Benjamin S. Rashford, Ph.D,
 Associate Professor/Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Applied Eco-nomics, University of Wyoming 
Alexandre V. Latchininsky, Ph.D,
 Associate Professor/Extension Entomologist, Department of Ecosystem Science and  Management, University of Wyoming, latchini@uwyo.edu
 John P. Ritten, Ph. D,
 Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics,University of Wyoming 
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Glen Whipple, Director, Co-operative Extension Service, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.Persons seeking admission, employment, or access to programs of the University of Wyoming shall be considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national ori-gin, disability, age, political belief, veteran status, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communica-
tion or program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact their local UW CES Ofce. To le a complaint, write the UW Employment Practices/Afrma
-
tive Action Ofce, University of Wyoming, Dept. 3434, 1000 E. Univ. Ave., Laramie, Wyoming 82071.Be aware that due to the dynamic nature of the World Wide Web, Internet sources may be difcult to nd. Addresses change and pages can disappear over time. If yound problems with any of the listed Web sites in this publication, please contact Milton Geiger, University of Wyoming, (307) 766-3002,
mgeiger1@uwyo.edu.
 
—1—
Introduction
angelands occupy 53 percent o the land areain the 17 western states o the U.S. – approxi-mately 661 million acres (Figure 1). Most westernrangelands are either privately owned (399 millionacres, 51 percent), or managed by Bureau o LandManagement (167 million acres, 25 percent) or USForest Service (95 million acres, 14 percent). Tey are essential to livestock production, which is themost common and widely distributed use o westernrangelands. Cattle and calves alone generated over$45 billion in sales across the 17 western states in2011 (NASS, 2011). Te value o livestock orage,however, is not the only value derived rom westernrangelands. Economic values attributable to range-lands also include recreation and ecosystem service values (e.g., wildlie habitat). Te comprehensive value o rangelands is important or inormingrangeland protection and management policies.Most policies, especially those targeted towardederal lands, are explicitly or implicitly subjectedto a cost-benet type criterion. Such criteria gen-erally depend upon assigning a value to the benetsrangelands produce. I orage is the only rangeland value considered, policymakers and managers willsystematically underestimate rangelands value andthereore may choose policies poorly.Pest management oers a concrete example o the values-management challenge. Te USDA is man-dated to manage public rangelands, a mandate thatexplicitly includes pest control. o make educateddecisions on control interventions, ederal land andpest managers apply an economic threshold ap-proach in which control interventions are justied when the cost o damage to rangeland orage (i.e.,the value o lost orage) becomes higher than thecost o treatments. However, there is increasingawareness that such an approach is disappointing-ly simplistic, and that rangeland benets are notlimited only to orage production. By ignoring theother values rangelands produce (many o whichcan be impacted by pests), the economic thresholdapproach as currently applied systematically under-estimates the value o pest damages and will tend torecommend investing too little in pest control. o help inorm policy and contribute to a broaderdiscussion o the comprehensive values o westernrangelands, we estimate a suite o rangeland valuesnot typically considered in policy discussions. Ourobjective is not to determine the “true” comprehen-sive value o rangelands – such an exercise is toodicult over a broad geographic area. Instead, wedemonstrate, using readily available data, the po-tential contribution o non-livestock values to thecomprehensive value o rangelands. Understandingthe more comprehensive values o rangelands canhelp producers and policymakers better managerangelands. Decisions to treat pests such as grass-hoppers, or example, are typically not applied untila damage threshold is reached (i.e., until the valueo potential damage exceeds the cost o treatment).I managers only consider livestock orage value,then these types o rangeland treatments may beapplied too late.
Dening Rangeland Values
E
conomists dene and classiy values in a variety o ways. wo important distinctions or our
Figure 1. Rangeland acreage by county in the westernU.S. (Data source: National Land Cover Database)

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