Invasive Weeds, Wildfire, and Rancher Decision Making in the Great Basin
In this article, a numerical stochastic dynamic programming model (SDP) is developed to characterize the decision problem of a rancher operating on rangelands in northern Nevada that are affected by invasive annual grasses and wildfire. The model incorporates decisions about herd size management of a cow-calf operation and fuels treatment to reduce the size of rangeland wildfires. Currently, high transactions costs to obtain permits to implement land treatments on federally-owned rangelands appear to limit rancher involvement. The results of the model suggest that ranch income motives alone are likely insufficient for private ranchers to adopt preventative land treatments. The current treatment cost ($20 per acre at the minimum) appears to be prohibitively expensive relative to the benefits derived from the treatments under the low-productivity, semi-arid rangeland conditions.
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