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WWRC 86-05bb
Data Needs, Time and Economics in Riparian Management Decisions


Regardless of the resource management problem being addressed, there are some general procedural steps that can be followed in evaluating alternative management practices. These main aspects or procedural steps in management decisions are as follows:

  1. Identification of problem and objectives
  2. Identification of management techniques and their associated costs
  3. Quantification of physical response from management techniques
  4. Valuation of the physical response
  5. Selection of the management techniques

While these procedural steps appear to be straight forward, riparian management decisions are generally quite complex. This complexity exists because of: (1) the multiple use aspects of riparian lands; (2) the potential impact on water quantity and quality; (3) interrelationships among climate, soils, uses, management and the productivity of riparian lands; (4) the possibility of alternative management strategies with associated cost and effectiveness; (5) the extended life of the response from riparian practices and (6) the difficulty in valuing all the effects of riparian management decisions. These complexities of water management decisions can only be addressed in the framework outlined above and if accurate technical information is available.

The relevance of these general procedural steps can be illustrated in the economic analysis of a proposed riparian management practice. The economic evaluation of a management practice is always based upon some stated objectives and assumptions. Furthermore, the economic analysis requires that accurate technical information is available on the management practice being considered and the physical response associated with that practice. At this point, the cost of the management technique and the value of the associated response must be determined. Since long periods of time are usually involved, these values are generally expressed in terms of present value.

Finally, the alternative management techniques being considered must be compared. Thus, the economic analysis requires that the general procedural steps be completed. In completing these steps, any major weaknesses in the proposed practice should be pointed out to both the researcher and decision-maker for possible further consideration. Following this general procedure should help in providing the information needed to improve riparian management decisions.

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