Facilitating the inclusion of nonmarket values in Bureau of Land Management planning and project assessments—Final report

Product Type: 

Open-file Report

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Huber, Chris, and Richardson, Leslie

Suggested Citation: 

Huber, Chris, and Richardson, Leslie, 2016, Facilitating the inclusion of nonmarket values in Bureau of Land Management planning and project assessments—Final report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1178, 79 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161178. DOI: 10.3133/ofr20161178

This report summarizes the results of a series of field-based case studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to (1) evaluate the use of nonmarket values in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning and project assessments, (2) update existing technical resources for measuring those values, and (3) provide guidance to field staff on the use of nonmarket values. Four BLM pilot sites participated in this effort: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas in Utah, BLM’s Taos Field Office in New Mexico, and BLM's Tuscarora Field Office in Nevada. The focus of the case studies was on practical applications of nonmarket valuation. USGS worked directly with BLM field staff at the pilot sites to demonstrate the process of considering nonmarket values in BLM decisionmaking and document the questions, challenges, and opportunities that arise when tying economic language to projects.

As part of this effort, a Web-based toolkit, available at https://my.usgs.gov/benefit-transfer/, was updated and expanded to help facilitate benefit transfers (that is, the use of existing economic data to quantify nonmarket values) and qualitative discussions of nonmarket values. A total of 53 new or overlooked nonmarket valuation studies comprising 494 nonmarket value estimates for various recreational activities and the preservation of threatened, endangered, and rare species were added to existing databases within this Benefit Transfer Toolkit. In addition, four meta-regression functions focused on hunting, wildlife viewing, fishing, and trail use recreation were developed and added to the Benefit Transfer Toolkit.

Results of this effort demonstrate that there are two main roles for nonmarket valuation in BLM planning. The first is to improve the decisionmaking process by contributing to a more comprehensive comparison of economic benefits and cost when evaluating resource tradeoffs for National Environmental Policy Act analyses. The second is to use economic language and information on economic values, either qualitative or quantitative, to improve the ability to communicate the economic significance of the resources provided by BLM-managed lands. 

Findings also indicate that the use of existing economic data to quantify nonmarket values (that is, benefit transfer) poses unique challenges because of the scarcity of both resource data and existing valuation studies focused on resources and sites managed by BLM. This highlights the need for improvements in the collection of resource data at BLM sites, especially visitor use data, as well as an opportunity for BLM’s Socioeconomics Program to strategically identify priority areas, in terms of both resources and geographic locations, where primary valuation studies could be conducted and the results used for future benefit transfers. Finally, whereas qualitative discussions of nonmarket values do not facilitate the comparison of monetized values, they can provide a manageable next step forward in providing more comprehensive information on nonmarket values for BLM plans and project assessments.

 

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