The agricultural, forestry, recreational and wildlife opportunity costs of pipelines, hydro lines and highways

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Barto, William P.
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The opportunity cost of conveyance corridors; highways, hydro lines and pipelines is the monetary value of resource uses foregone; the lost value of physical production resulting from the allocation of land to right-of-way use. Theoretical models were developed for calculating the resource uses foregone and under the criteria of measurability and availability of data, practical equations for conveyance corridors traversing agricultural and forested areas were formulated. Use of practical equations was illustrated by creating hypothetical corridors through the Municipalities of Elton and North Cypress (agricultural application) and through Township 61, Ranges 27 and 28 (forestry application). Conflict between rights-of-way and recreational areas was difficult to quantify and strict economic analysis of opportunity costs was not possible. An alternative technique of reclamation, reparation and mitigation (RRM) was therefore proposed for evaluating opportunity costs. Difficulty in defining wildlife prices and determining the effects of corridors on wildlife prevented the use of the developed economic equation. Thus the alternative technique of RRM was suggested to quantify wildlife opportunity costs. Application of the model produced a comparison of corridor opportunity costs. For a hypothetical corridor, 120 feet wide and 42 miles long traversing agricultural land the highway had a loss of $1, 087,000 and the hydro line with wooden towers a loss of $4000 with steel towers, $13,000. The pipeline had a range of opportunity costs from a benefit of $11,000 to a loss of $127,000. All values were calculated for 50 years, undiscounted. One equation was derived for all corridors in forested areas. Application of this model to a hypothetical corridor, 120 feet wide and 12.6 miles long produced for all corridors, and opportunity cost of $151,000 (calculated for 50 years undiscounted). A questionnaire inquiring about the effects of pipelines on soil productivity was sent (summer 1973) to farmers having a pipeline traversing their property. Nine percent of the respondents indicated an increase in yield due to the pipeline, 25 percent reported no change and 66 percent indicated a decrease in crop yield. However, general lack of data of effects of pipelines on soil productivity suggest the need for further study. Numerous ways are available for reducing opportunity costs of corridors; of which multiple use is one of the best. All land has potential for wildlife utilization and a review of literature suggests that corridors are suitable for wildlife production. Thus where active primary production is not possible or too costly it is recommended that steps be taken to use idle right-of-way lands for wildlife enhancement and production.
Opportunity costs, right-of-way