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Wednesday, June 5 • 10:00am - 10:25am
Economic Impact of the Katy Prairie LIMITED

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An economic valuation of Katy Prairie Conservancy’s (KPC) protected ranch land was conducted (1) to evaluate tangible ecological services of KPC land to the Greater Houston Area and (2) to create the economic foundations for a regional model for protection and restoration of more lands, and (3) to understand the potential role in flood damage reduction using restored grasslands. An overarching premise was tested: “Could a new compelling economic strategy protecting and restoring grasslands save on public expenditures for addressing infrastructure investments, such as for flood damage reduction?”
Ecological communities were mapped using satellite imagery and classified using geostatistical analytical techniques over the 101,000-acre study area. Ecosystem services were identified and valued for each of the mapped ecological communities on a US$/acre/year basis using the process of benefit transfer through application of pertinent literature-derived values. Ecological functions were categorized as services (work), products (consumables) and secondary services (cultural and other). Literature data and region-specific biophysical data were used to estimate stormwater infiltration rates under primary ecological communities. The ecosystem service values valued included: air quality, carbon sequestration, soil stability and health, flood remediation, water quality, water supply, regulate water flow, habitat, climate moderation, crop commodities, mitigation, hunting and fishing, recreation and tourism and property values. Non-hydrological related ecosystem services values were projected over 30 years, with a total value approximated $1.5 trillion, or $38 million annually, or~ $1495 to $1900 per acre. Coordinated hydrological analyses of flood reduction benefits performed by Rice University’s SSPEED Center were then considered and grasslands were found to have reduced runoff for mid-frequency storm events (i.e., 10, 25 and 50 yr storm events) but not for larger storms (i.e., 100 yr and greater). The reductions in stormwater runoff volumes contributed by the grasslands was valued at $45 million dollars; an estimate based on reduced reservoir storage required to manage the volume of water managed by the grasslands. A second model used measured infiltration and reduced runoff volumes, compared to abutting suburban developed lands, finding KPC lands provided $332 to $647 million dollars (2017 dollars) for 10-50-year events. When hydrological and non-hydrological ecosystem services and flood damage reduction benefits were combined at the scale of 101,000 acres, benefits ranged from $377 to 692 million or an annual per acre range from $5,627 to $8,341. These are conservative estimates not accounting for vegetation interception, improved landscape-scale infiltration, enhanced soil health under grassland restoration and improved grazing. Future work would focus on larger storm events (e.g. 550+ yr events such as Hurricane Harvey) to learn how grassland and wetland restoration can be integrated with traditional regional storm water management infrastructure. It was concluded that grassland conservation and restoration is a significant contributor to ecosystem services, including flood damage reduction in the greater Houston region.


Wednesday June 5, 2019 10:00am - 10:25am CDT
Room 1418, The Forest Room