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Potential environmental impacts and economic damages of Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) in western Nevada and northeastern California

Publication Type:

Journal Article


WEED TECHNOLOGY, Volume 14, Issue 3, p.511-518 (2000)


Eurasian watermilfoil, an aquatic invasive weed, has been identified recently at a number of sites in western Nevada and northeastern California, including Lake Tahoe. Because Eurasian watermilfoil is easily spread by fragments, transport on boats and boating equipment plays a key role in contaminating new water bodies. This is an important means of the potential spread of this weed throughout key recreational and agricultural areas surrounding Lake Tahoe. Unless the weed is controlled, significant alterations of aquatic ecosystems, with associated degradation of natural resources and economic damages to human uses of those resources, may occur. This research uses the economic valuation approach known as benefits transfer to estimate the value of a portion of the recreational service flows that society currently enjoys in the Truckee River watershed below Lake Tahoe. The lower-bound estimates of baseline water-based recreation value at a subset of sites in the watershed range from $30 to $45 million/yr. Impacts from the continued spread of Eurasian watermilfoil in the watershed could be significant; for example, even a 1% decrease in recreation values would correspond to roughly $500,000/yr as a lower bound.