Balancing Environment and Development

Costs, Revenues, and Benefits of the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan

by Lloyd Dixon, Paul Sorensen, Martin Wachs, Myles T. Collins, Mark Hanson, Aaron Kofner, Thomas Light, Michael Madsen, Lindell Marsh, Adrian Overton, Howard J. Shatz, Brian A. Weatherford

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Abstract

The Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) is an ambitious effort to balance development and environmental concerns in an area of rapid urban growth. In return for setting up a 500,000-acre conservation reserve, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game granted the county and cities in western Riverside County a 75-year “take” permit for endangered species. The take permit allows the cities and county to approve development projects outside the reserve that could negatively affect 146 sensitive plant and animal species. The plan is supposed to speed the frequently time-consuming and litigious process of permitting new highway and development projects while establishing an integrated conservation reserve rather than the patchwork of uncoordinated reserves that was so often the case in the past. The Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) acquires land for and manages the reserve. This monograph examines the value of the land needed for the reserve, the financial consequences of acquiring the land over different periods of time, and the projected costs of operating the reserve. It compares projected costs and revenues and identifies potential funding sources to fill any resulting funding gap. It also examines the prospect for achieving the MSHCP's habitat-conservation goals and whether the MSHCP has, in fact, streamlined the permitting processes. Finally, it identifies issues that the RCA Board of Directors, RCA staff, and stakeholders should address to ensure the plan's success and the ongoing economic and ecological health of the county.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Value of Parcels Already Acquired by RCA

  • Chapter Three

    Value of Land Required for the MSHCP Reserve

  • Chapter Four

    Financial Implications of Temporal Acquisition Strategies

  • Chapter Five

    Costs of Implementing the MSHCP and Operating the Reserve

  • Chapter Six

    Projected Revenue for RCA

  • Chapter Seven

    Additional Local Revenue Options

  • Chapter Eight

    The MSHCP's Effects on the Permitting Process for Transportation and Development Projects

  • Chapter Nine

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Specification and Estimation of the Land-Value Model

  • Appendix B

    Examples of Simulated Land-Price Paths

  • Appendix C

    Revenue Sources for Existing Habitat-Conservation Plans

  • Appendix D

    Integrating Funding for Infrastructure Construction and Conservation

  • Appendix E

    The Effect of the MSHCP on Mobility in Western Riverside County

  • Appendix F

    Future Changes in the Permitting Process

The research described in this monograph was supported by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority and was conducted under the auspices of the Transportation, Space, and Technology Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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