How much do you think returning salmon to the Lower Yuba River is worth? SYRCL worked with five graduate students from the UC Santa Barbara School Bren School of Environmental Science and Management to answer that question and to quantify the economic benefits of salmon for the community and the economy of the Lower Yuba River. The group found that restoring salmon habitat has clear economic value in the Lower Yuba River. If Chinook salmon populations are doubled in the Yuba watershed (see Central Valley Project Improvement Act doubling goal) it would result in a $64 million benefit to the region. The group utilized existing data on ecosystem health and current conditions, current and planned restoration efforts, the cost of restoration, the local economic benefits of restoration, the carbon sequestration benefit, and completed a cost-benefit analysis using different restoration scenarios.
Quantifying benefits is an important and powerful tool in the planning and assessment stages of river restoration projects. This economic assessment will help SYRCL’s Yuba Salmon Now Campaign and its growing restoration work on the Lower Yuba River as we continue to push for fish passage and habitat improvements in the watershed.