Economic Analysis of Conservation Efforts in Okanogan County
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Economic Analysis of Conservation Efforts in Okanogan County

Category: Agency Plans and Reports - Economic Impact

Date Published:  2014

Number of Pages: 123

Author(s): Julie Ann Gustanski, Ph.D., LLM and David Scarsella, M.S.


The mission of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is “To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.” Land acquisition to conserve important fish and wildlife habitats is used by WDFW to meet this legislative mandate.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the fiscal and economic effects of WDFW-owned lands within Okanogan County (the County). The study considers WDFW-owned parcels that reside in two landscape conservation focus areas defined by WDFW as the ‘Methow’ and the ‘Okanogan-Similkameen’. Given study parameters and constraints, our analyses pertain to a finite set of 156 ‘study area parcels’ purchased in fee between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2013.

Several research activities were conducted in this study:

Payment-in-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) assessments on study area parcels; synchronous assessments to private landowners by local taxing districts on study area parcels, and thus the change in revenue resulting from the change in ownership are calculated.

A customized residential build-out scenario was developed for the study area parcels. Results of this exercise are used in a comparative assessment of service costs, under current conditions and with potential future build out, for pertinent taxing districts.

The customized build-out scenario was repeated for study area parcels with water rights. In addition, potential values of agricultural production on these parcels were examined.

The economic benefits provided by all WDFW-owned lands in Okanogan County were examined through economic impact modelling and analysis. The annual values of seven important ecosystem services were assessed for the study area parcels to determine the economic value they provide to the County. Finally, we provide a systematic protocol for use by the Department during the parcel acquisition process. The worksheet protocol is designed to aid in evaluation of the fiscal and economic effects on the County due to parcel acquisition.