Costs and benefits of wetland restoration of hydric cropland in Missouri: a preliminary assessment
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This report presents a preliminary analysis of the benefits and costs of restoring hydric cropland sites to wetlands in Missouri. Potential social and private (landowner) benefits and costs were estimated for 25 sites in Livingston county and 23 sites in Linn county. Sites ranging in size from 36 to 68 acres were identified using a geographic information system. Social net benefits of wetland restoration for both counties were highest and positive ($431,248) with high benefits and low costs and negative and lowest (-$579,681) with low benefits and high costs. When wetland construction costs are fully subsidized and easement payments equal the opportunity cost of wetland restoration, private net benefits ranged from $629,905 (high landowner benefits) to $9,686 (low landowner benefits). It would be economically rational for a landowner to convert hydric cropland to wetland if the easement payment provided by the government is greater than or equal to the opportunity cost of wetland restoration, the cost of wetland construction is fully subsidized, and the income earned from the wetland equals or exceeds maintenance cost of the wetland. The first condition is likely to be satisfied for landowners who bid eligible cropland into the Wetland Reserve Program. The second condition would be satisfied under current cost-sharing provisions for wetlands. The third condition may or may not be satisfied.