Cape May Meadows

Cape May, NJ

Assessing the Flood Reduction and Tourism Benefits of Ecological Restoration Projects

Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Cape May, NJ

Assessing the Flood Reduction and Tourism Benefits of Ecological Restoration Projects

Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Cape May, NJ

Assessing the Flood Reduction and Tourism Benefits of Ecological Restoration Projects

Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Project Summary

At large scales, there is strong evidence that intact natural systems can reduce flooding and provide economic benefits. But many land use decisions are made at the local scale. How can communities evaluate the economic benefits of restoration projects at a scale that is meaningful for their decisions? This case study of an ecological restoration in Cape May, New Jersey demonstrates a basic method for evaluating the economic benefits of ecological restoration projects at the local level.

The Lower Cape May Meadows restoration, completed in 2007, replenished the beach and rebuilt the dunes, which slow incoming waves. The project also increased the storage capacity of the wetlands and improved their drainage capacity, intended to reduce flooding to surrounding homes. We conducted an economic analysis to determine: 1) was the level of flooding reduced after the restoration and if so, how much money did homeowners save from avoided flood damage costs? and 2) knowing that this was a popular site for birders, did the economic impact from tourism spending on hotels, restaurants, and other items increase after the restoration?

Completed in 2014, the analysis found that avoided damages from flooding after the restoration is valued at least $2,000,000 and could be as high as $17,300,000. Although these numbers are not meant to be exact, they represent an order of magnitude, giving municipal officials and planners more information for future planning efforts.

For tourism, the analysis concluded that restoration led to an increase by approximately $210-$235 million per year, above the previous annual spending by birders.

For more information, refer to the Full report.

Project

Assessing the Flood Reduction and Tourism Benefits of Ecological Restoration Projects

Partners

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and The Nature Conservancy

Focus

Analysis of data; economic impact assessment, wetland restoration, coastal restoration, flood reduction, tourism

Location

Cape May, NJ

Years

2014

Sunset Environmental Economist

Photo courtesy Damon Noe    

contact us

Elizabeth Schuster, Economist

Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 243-249-0298
Email: eschuster@sustainableeconomiesconsulting.com

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contact us

Elizabeth Schuster, Economist

Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 243-249-0298
Email: eschuster@sustainableeconomiesconsulting.com

connect

contact us

Elizabeth Schuster, Economist

Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 243-249-0298
Email: eschuster@sustainableeconomiesconsulting.com

connect

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