A Comprehensive Methodology for Measuring Costs and Benefits of Critical Habitat Designation Under the Endangered Species Act
Slack, John Taylor
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In recent years, critical habitat has been subject to a great deal of controversy and numerous lawsuits. Critical habitat is an integral part of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that serves not only to protect the species and its habitat but may also help the recovery of the species. Critical habitat has been the subject of a large number of recent lawsuits. These lawsuits arise from conservation groups, forcing the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to designate critical habitat and from developmental groups, claiming that the economic analyses used by the FWS during the designation of critical habitat are faulty. The economic analyses that are currently being done by the FWS are quantifying the costs of critical habitat to the extent possible while virtually making no effort to quantify the benefits of critical habitat. This potentially biased economic analysis can skew public opinion by presenting an unbalanced result from the analysis. Therefore, this thesis presents a methodology for comprehensively identifying and quantifying, where possible, the costs and benefits of critical habitat.