The costs of endangered species regulation
Debates over the utility of the Endangered Species Act often focus on the alleged costs of protecting listed species. Here’s a good and recent example concerning the marbled murrelet, a small song bird listed as a threatened species since 1992. The State of Oregon has been considering selling timberland in the Elliott State Forest in Coos County. The lands for sale have been valued at over $22 million. At least, until this summer when state surveyors and volunteers with the the Coast Range Forest Watch, an environmental group opposed to the sale, discovered murrelets on the property. Because of the discovery, the timberlands have been re-appraised to just $3.6 million, a reduction of 84%. The discovery of the birds may well frustrate the sale, which may be good news for the zealous birders of the Coast Range Forest Watch, but not so good news for Oregon’s public schools, which stood to receive the proceeds from the sale.