Irrigation-dependent wetlands versus instream flow enhancement: economics of water transfers from agriculture to wildlife uses.

Book Title: NA
Year Published: 2004
Month Published: NA
Author: Peck, D. E. ; McLeod, D. M. ; Hewlett, J. P. ; Lovvorn,J. R.
Book Group Author: NA

Irrigated agriculture throughout western North America faces increasing pressure to transfer water to nonagricultural uses, including instream flows for fish and wildlife management. In an important case, increased instream flows are needed in Nebraska's Platte River for recovery of threatened and endangered fish and wildlife species. Irrigated agriculture in the Laramie Basin of southeast Wyoming is a potential water source for the effort to enhance instream flow. However, flood irrigation of hayfields in the Laramie Basin has created many wetlands, both ephemeral and permanent, over the last century. Attempting to increase Platte River instream flows by purchasing water rights or improving irrigation efficiency in the Laramie Basin would transform irrigated agriculture, causing a substantial fraction of the Laramie Basins wetlands to be lost. A creative solution is needed to prevent the sacrifice of one ecosystem on behalf of another. A rotating short-term water-leasing program is proposed. The program allows Laramie Basin producers to contribute to instream flows while continuing to support local wetlands. Permanent wetland desiccation is prevented and regional environmental water needs are met without impairing local ecological resources. Budget analysis is used to provide an initial cost estimate for acquiring water from agriculture through the short-term leasing program. The proposed approach is more expensive than traditional programs but allows contribution to instream flows without major wetland loss. Short-term leasing is a more efficient approach if benefits from wetlands exceed the difference in cost between the short-term lease program and programs that do not conserve wetlands.

Pages: 842 - 855
Volume: 34
Number: 6
Journal: Environmental Management
Journal ISO: NA
Organization: NA
Publisher: NA
ISSN: 0364-152X

agricultural land, agriculture, desiccation, endangeredspecies, estimated costs, fish, flood irrigation, leases, rivers, streamflow, water conservation, water resources, water transfer, water use,wetlands, wildlife management, USA, Wyoming, North America, America,Developed Countries, OECD Countries, Mountain States of USA, WesternStates of USA, USA, Great Plains States of USA, Natural ResourceEconomics (EE115) (New March 2000), Water Resources (PP200), LandResources (PP300), Wetlands (PP320), Biological Resources (Animal) (PP710)

Source: EBSCO
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