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http://ssrn.com/abstract=223871
 
 

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Preemptive Habitat Destruction Under the Endangered Species Act


Dean Lueck


University of Arizona

Jeffrey A. Michael


Towson University - Department of Economics; North Carolina State University - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

April 2000


Abstract:     
This paper examines the extent to which landowners have preemptively destroyed endangered species' habitats in order to avoid potential landuse regulations prescribed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA it is not only illegal to take (kill) an endangered species, but it is also illegal to damage their habitat. Our application is to red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs) in the forests of North Carolina. RCWs are an endangered species that live in old growth pine forests throughout the Southeast. Our primary hypothesis is that the closer a landowner is to known populations of RCWs, the more likely the landowner will take action to destroy the habitat for RCWs, primarily by "prematurely" cutting their pine forest. By preventing the establishment of an old growth pine stand, the landowner can insure that RCWs do not inhabit their land and avoid ESA regulations that limit or prohibit timber harvest activity. Two empirical questions are addressed: How does the potential for ESA regulation affect the harvest probability of a particular forest plot? How does the potential for ESA regulation affect the age at which a forest will be harvested? Data on over 1,000 individual forest plots from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) and a 1997-98 North Carolina State University (NCSU) survey of over 400 landowners are used to test predictions about the probability of harvest and the age of timber when it is harvested. The location of RCW populations is used to construct various measures of the probability that a forest plot will become inhabited by RCWs and thus subject to ESA restrictions on land use. Probit regressions estimate the probability that a plot is harvested and OLS regressions - corrected for harvest selection bias - estimate the age at which a plot is harvested. In all our estimates we find that increases in the proximity of a plot to RCWs increases the probability that the plot will be harvested and decreases the age at which the forest is harvested. These findings indicate that the ESA, at least for RCWs in North Carolina, actually reduces the amount of endangered species habitat.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 59

JEL Classification: K20, K32

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Date posted: August 16, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Lueck, Dean and Michael, Jeffrey A., Preemptive Habitat Destruction Under the Endangered Species Act (April 2000). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=223871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.223871

Contact Information

Dean Lueck (Contact Author)
University of Arizona ( email )
Chavez Building, Room 421
Tucson, AZ 95721-0023
United States
520-621-4371 (Phone)
520-621-6250 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://ag.arizona.edu/AREC/dept/faculty/lueck.html
Jeffrey A. Michael
Towson University - Department of Economics ( email )
Towson, MD 21204
United States
North Carolina State University - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ( email )
Box 8109
Raleigh, NC 27695-8109
United States
919-515-3896 (Phone)
919-515-7873 (Fax)
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References:  53
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