The anatomy physiology psychology and economics of desert destruction and restoration
1 / 28

The Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology and Economics of Desert Destruction and Restoration - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

The Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology and Economics of Desert Destruction and Restoration. David A. Bainbridge San Diego, CA 2004. Play time!. Introduction. Desert degradation is usually caused by a set of interlocking factors

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about ' The Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology and Economics of Desert Destruction and Restoration' - ananda

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
The anatomy physiology psychology and economics of desert destruction and restoration

The Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology and Economics of Desert Destruction and Restoration

David A. BainbridgeSan Diego, CA


Play time
Play time! Destruction and Restoration

Introduction Destruction and Restoration

  • Desert degradation is usually caused by a set of interlocking factors

  • These include the fragility of the desert environment, flawed economics, weak laws and regulations, and human "needs" for immediate gratification

  • A doctor can't cure many diseases without treating the causes, neither can we

Anatomy Destruction and Restoration

  • The desert remains under unprecedented assault from development, infrastructure, air pollution, nitrogen deposition, invasive species, military operations, mining, and OHV activity

  • OHV activity is the least necessary, very extensive; and very damaging

  • The full extent of OHV damage remains unknown

Hill climb damage
Hill climb damage Destruction and Restoration

Physiology Destruction and Restoration

  • Plant communities are disrupted by direct impacts, crushing, and damage to roots

  • Weed invasions make desert ecosystems much more vulnerable to wildfire leading to loss of key species

  • Compaction is often severe in heavily used areas and infiltration can be very limited

  • Water flow changes and erosion increases

  • Reduced levels of hyphae and bacteria are found

Change in water flow
Change in water flow Destruction and Restoration

Damage is extensive
Damage is extensive Destruction and Restoration

  • The most apparent level of OHV damage is total destruction of all vegetation in high use areas

  • Even in areas of moderate use the damage is quite extensive, although to the untrained eye it may appear less severe if the larger shrubs are still standing

  • Root damage and destruction of soil communities can be largely invisible but critical

  • Extensive use of desert washes for OHVs has been a disaster for wash ecosystems

Dove springs
Dove Springs Destruction and Restoration

Fence line

Psychology Destruction and Restoration

  • Understanding the allure of OHV operation is not difficult “its fun”

  • OHV exploration on roads (the more sedate part of the OHV community) enables families to discover new areas and enjoy the beauty of the desert

  • It makes it easy to reach remote areas for camping

Ohv play areas
OHV play areas Destruction and Restoration

  • OHV play is noisy, involves speed and power, danger, and requires intense concentration “That’s fun!!”

  • A small percentage of the OHV population needs the added “kick” of outlaw behavior

  • Flouting route restrictions, damage of undisturbed areas, vandalizing fences and gates, signs, and displays, smashing plants

Hill climbs
Hill climbs Destruction and Restoration

This is a legal play area. Repairs are difficult and costly

Failed education
Failed education Destruction and Restoration

  • The OHV community, like most Americans, have "affluenza", falling prey to relentless and sophisticated advertising, "If I just have more, I'll be happy"

  • Poorly educated by a failed school system, they also have no concept of ”Nature's Services", ”Natural Capital", and "sustainability" or any concern for plants, animals, birds and ecosystems

Economics it s the economy stupid
Economics Destruction and Restoration“It’s the economy, stupid”

  • The OHV community of manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers and their advertising agencies and dependents is big business

  • The economic impact is $5-10 billion dollars a year in California

  • More than 40% of the money spent on OHVs is for vehicles and almost 10% is for fuel

Flawed accounting
Flawed accounting Destruction and Restoration

  • Existing economic analyses neglect environmental affects and uncompensated costs to taxpayers

  • This provides a picture of OHV economics that is so misleading it would make Enron's accountants blush.

$econ activity minus damage $eco = less than zero






Autistic accounting
Autistic accounting Destruction and Restoration

  • Neoclassical economics says value is determined by sales price or use value, perhaps $500 to $700 per hectare for desert lands and ecosystems

  • Ecological economics says a better way to judge value is replacement cost for the ecosystem structure and function, perhaps $50,000 per hectare

  • Knowing this we can say that a full size 4x4 can do $40,000 dollars of damage in a day of ripping across the virgin desert

Restoration experience has illustrated the high repair costs
Restoration experience has illustrated the high repair costs Destruction and Restoration

Tall pots for


at the Ant Hill

Anza Borrego

Dove springs california
Dove Springs, California Destruction and Restoration

Damage and repair assessment

Condition Area/length Cost/unit Total ha denuded

or dense tracks 194 50,000 9700000with OHV impact 740 20,000 14800000km route 576 12,000 6912000km wash routes 77 25,000 1925000 Net $3,333,7000Damage assessment from Matchett et al., 2004. Repair estimates from experience.

Other uncompensated costs
Other uncompensated costs Destruction and Restoration

  • Some could be determined, but haven't been well studied; while others are quite challenging to cost

  • Medical treatment, perhaps $20-30 million a year for uninsured treatment in hospitals and ambulance services

  • Enforcement

  • Cleanup and repair of facilities and fixing vandalism

  • The economic cost of Global Change

  • The economic cost of weed control

  • The economic cost of increased fire risk

Cost related to natural capital and nature s services
Cost related to Natural Capital and Nature's Services Destruction and Restoration

  • What is the value of biodiversity?

  • Of beauty?

  • Of endangered species?

  • Of natural hydrologic function?

  • What is the ecological cost of exotic species invasion?

  • What is the ecological cost of increased fire?

  • The ecological cost of nitrogen deposition?

  • What is the ecological cost of global warming?

  • Almost certainly these are in the billions...

Subsidies Destruction and Restoration

  • Subsidies - you gotta love ‘em!

  • Some studies of automobile operation in the U.S. suggests we all get about a 90% subsidy

  • OHV operators are currently getting a subsidy closer to 99%, but users complain heavily about existing fees

  • An OHV green sticker costs only $12.50 a year, just $50 a year for an OHV park pass, or $90 a year for an Imperial Dunes pass

  • In contrast $120 a year for a state park pass!

Ohv industry profits taxpayers pay
OHV industry profits, taxpayers pay Destruction and Restoration

  • The OHV industry is mining the value of the desert at the expense of the desert owners (the American public)

    and future generations

  • The value of the desert's scenic beauty, “Natural Capital”, and “Nature's Services” is being exported to Japan and Detroit

  • While the beneficiaries pay lip service to “tread lightly”, advertising almost always shows the “tread heavily” mode

The future
The future Destruction and Restoration

  • Desert restoration is not a technical problem

  • Desert destruction is the result of poor accounting

  • It will be difficult to do anything about the enormous problem of desert deterioration until we address this “driver”

  • Unless we do, we are as the Dutch say, “mopping up the floor without turning off the water”

The education problem
The education problem Destruction and Restoration

  • Users need to be aware of costs, impacts, and responsibility

  • Control of the worst outlaws is most important and most difficult, they do the most damage

  • Responsible off-highway recreation does relatively little damage and users support cleanup and repair work

  • I like OHV activity but don’t ramble off route (just as I might like to shoot skeet in the Crystal Palace but don’t)

  • Managers need to better understand and factor in cost issues - Joshua Tree has had good luck in court recovering restoration costs for illegal activity

Just because it s fun doesn t mean it s right
Just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean it’s right Destruction and Restoration

Skeet shooting in the Crystal Palace would be fun!

Manufacturers must play a bigger role in tread lightly
Manufacturers must play a bigger role in “tread lightly” Destruction and Restoration

  • A special sales tax on OHVs (5- 10%) might be advisable

  • OHV manufacturers should be charged $50-100,000 for each advertisement exhibiting “tread heavily” behavior

  • If a park pass costs $120 a year, then an OHV pass should probably cost $1,000 a year or at least $500

  • If a ski pass costs $36 a day, then an OHV pass should be probably cost $100 a day

  • Implementing this level of fee would be politically unfeasible, but perhaps $250 a year would be plausible

Taxes and fees would help pay uncompensated costs
Taxes and fees would help pay uncompensated costs Destruction and Restoration

  • Medical system costs

  • Better management

  • Enforcement

  • Critically needed funding for research (Recovery and Vulnerability $50 million year)

  • Active restoration program ($50 million year)

  • Money to develop new, high quality OHV play areas on lands removed from agriculture due to water transfers

  • Funding for new OHV play areas closer to urban areas

Resources Destruction and Restoration

  • Desert Manager’s Group

  • A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration. Island Press. 2007