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An Economic Analysis of Vegetative Buffer Strip Implementation. Case Study: Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay, California

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Vegetative buffer strips (VBS) are being proposed as a tool to protect water quality from nonpoint pollution nationwide, yet no studies have investigated the economics of implementing VBS. This study evaluates environmental costs and benefits of implementing VBS, both to the grower and to society as a whole, as a means of capturing nonmarket ecosystem values and informing decision making. Results indicate a net economic benefit to the grower for installing VBS within the first year, if the economic costs of erosion are considered. The installation of VBS also has extensive economic benefits to society, including in areas such as tourism, commercial fisheries, long-term road maintenance, and harbor protection. These results support installing VBS as a management strategy in an erosion-prone watershed to protect water quality and preserve soil fertility, as well as to protect economic interests. A number of policy tools to encourage VBS implementation are discussed, including tax incentives and legislative policies. Government intervention through incentive-based programs is advocated due to the clear economic and ecologic benefits to society.
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Keywords: AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF; COSTBENEFIT ANALYSIS; ECO-SYSTEM SERVICES; ECONOMIC VALUATION; EROSION; NONPOINT-SOURCE POLLUTION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 1999

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