Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Economics and Finance

Department name when degree awarded



E. Bruce Godfrey


A theoretical analysis for estimating the social cost and benefits associated with the impact of grazing on rangeland watersheds has been made in this study. A dynamic maximization model is used to derive an optimal utilization of forage by grazing, where forage utilization is treated as a decision variable and the hydrologic outputs of water and sediment are considered as a possible impact resulting from grazing.

A modeling approach to predict the quantities of water runoff and sediment yield from watersheds was employed. A water balance equation and a curve number procedure were used to predict water runoff. For the prediction of soil loss and sediment yields, the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and the Modified Universal Soil Loss Equation (MUSLE) were utilized. This modeling approach makes it possible to simulate long-term impact of grazing on livestock production, water runoff, and erosion. To integrate these predictions on physical quantities of erosion and runoff into an economic framework, procedures for an economic valuation have been explored and presented. This theoretical analysis deals with the problems associated with watershed practices. It attempts to bridge the gap between the physically based studies and economic analysis. It provides a comprehensive analytic framework to evaluate policy decisions on publicly administered range lands. This analysis could be used to determine the optimal rate of the use of rangeland watersheds by domestic livestock.

Empirical analysis has been undertaken as an application of the methodology outlined in the theoretical analysis. It utilized the outputs generated from a simulation (SPUR) model . The outputs from the simulation with the SPUR hydrology model include water runoff, sediment yields, and livestock gains. These outputs have provided the bas is for a "with" versus "without" analysis common to all cost-benefit analysis. The analysis showed that grazing in a selected area for 50 years yielded a benefit-cost ratio of 1.07. The results of this analysis demonstrated that grazing on rangeland watershed was economically justified even when the impacts of grazing on the watershed were taken into account.

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