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Economic Analysis of Watershed Management Decisions--What Sort of Guides for Land Managers?

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Land management for the purpose of changing the quality, quantity, and timing of water flows is likely to expand in the future. In economic considerations, land managers will probably be confronted with three types of decision: to achieve fixed results at least cost (a least-cost decision); to achieve maximum results from a fixed expenditure (a fixed-expenditure decision); or to select courses of action that promise additional returns greater than the additional costs (a production-goal decision). For economic analysis of these decisions, several types of data would be required. Physical response data and cost data would be required in all cases. Water-value data would be vital for production-goal decisions, important for a particular class of fixed-expenditure decisions, and unnecessary for least-cost decisions. Problems of measurement must be overcome to obtain physical response and cost data. In contrast, problems of both measurement and theory must be overcome to obtain water-value data since water is not generally bought and sold at the watershed. Furthermore, most decisions made by local managers are least-cost or fixed-expenditure decisions. Therefore research in the economics of watershed management might best be concentrated first on least-cost and final-expenditure decisions.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Forest Economist, Division of Forest Economics Research, Northeastern Forest Expt. Sta., Forest Service, U. S. Dept. Agric., Upper Darby, Pa.

Publication date: 01 September 1963

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