Chapter 9: Designing a Contingent Valuation Study to Estimate the Benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program on Grassland Bird Populations
9 Designing a contingent valuation study to estimate the beneﬁts of the conservation reserve program on grassland bird populations1 Mary Clare Ahearn, Kevin J. Boyle and Daniel R. Hellerstein2 9.1 Introduction Wildlife biologists have expressed concern about declining populations of grassland bird species, and loss of habitats is generally cited as the major reason for their decline. The major historical grassland area of the US is in the heartland, where agriculture dominates the landscape. Over time, farms and farm ﬁelds have been established and consolidated, leaving less undisturbed habitat. While agricultural activities may be detrimental to some species, other species may beneﬁt from the habitat and food sources provided by agricultural lands. However, the majority of grassland bird species appear to be declining. Data from the Breeding Bird Survey, which tracks the populations of 431 species in North America, reveal that only 23 per cent (between 1966 and 1998) of grassland bird species populations increased. The comparable rate for all bird species combined indicates that 52 per cent increased (Sauer et al., 1999). In Fiscal year 1996, the Federal government spent $6.7 billion on resource conservation and related programs aﬀecting agriculture (USDA/ERS, 1997). The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the major conservation program of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), costing $1.8 billion in ﬁscal year, 1996. The CRP pays farmland owners to retire their environmentally sensitive lands from agricultural production for periods of 10 or 15 years. CRP enrollment represents about 7 per cent of the...
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