Economic Impact Study: Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan

Report prepared in 1992 for Travis County and City of Austin officials considering the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, a habitat conservation plan for the black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, six karst invertebrates, and two plant species. The research evaluated the comparative effects on Austin’s and Travis County’s future economic development, property values, and government tax revenue of two approaches to complying with the habitat provisions of the Endangered Species Act. In one approach, individual property owners with habitat would need to comply with requirements of the Act if they intended to undertake an activity that affects the habitat on their land. In a second approach, landowners with habitat could voluntarily join a regional habitat conservation plan that collectively ensures the continued existence of the identified endangered species. The study projected the economic costs and benefits of the two approaches over a 20-year period and appears to have been the first major economic analysis in the country of a habitat conservation plan. This research supported establishment of a regional habitat plan (subsequently adopted), and served as a model for many other jurisdictions in analyzing their proposed habitat conservation plans.