Description: This report examines the economics of wetland creation, restoration, and enhancement projects, especially as they are used within the context of mitigation for unavoidable wetland losses. Complete engineering-cost-accounting profiles of over 90 wetland projects were developed in collaboration with leading wetland restoration and creation practitioners around the country to develop a primary source database. Data on the costs of over 1,000 wetland projects were gathered from published sources and other available databases to develop a secondary source database. Cases in both databases were carefully analyzed and a set of baseline cost per acre estimates were developed for wetland creation, restoration, and enhancement. Observations of costs varied widely, ranging from $5 per acre to $1.5 million per acre. Differences in cost were related to the target wetland type, and to site-specific and project-specific factors that affected the preconstruction, construction, and post-construction tasks necessary to carry out each particular project. Project-specific and site-specific factors had a much larger effect on project costs than wetland type for non-agricultural projects. Costs of wetland creation and restoration were also shown to differ by region, but not by as much as expected, and in response to the regulatory context. The costs of wetland creation, restoration, and enhancement were also analyzed in a broader economic context through examination of the market for wetland mitigation services, and through the development of a framework for estimating compensation ratios-the number of acres of created, restored, or enhanced wetland required to compensate for an acre of lost natural wetland. The combination of per acre creation, restoration, and enhancement costs and the compensation ratio determine the overall mitigation costs associated with alternative mitigation strategies.
Date: August 1, 1995
Creator: King, D. & Bohlen, C.
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