AltInst: Marketable Wetlands

From: Robert E. Lewis <>
Date: Tue May 12 1998 - 13:46:39 PDT


Coastal wetlands perform necessary functions in maintaining
ecologies, one of these functions being as a nursery habitat
for commercial fish species. But most of these functions
aren’t directly marketable -- there is no mechanism for
commercial fishers to compensate wetlands owners. So, when
a wetland is restricted to performing only those wetland
functions, the owner effectively loses the value of the
property. Government acquisition of the wetlands is
expensive and often has the effect of removing the property
from local tax rolls.

Permit wetlands owners to sell annual “wetlands-support coupons,”
based upon the size of the property and its suitability as a
nursery habitat. Shrimpers could buy the coupons, and redeem
them with the State fisheries licensing agency in return for a
discount on their commercial fishing licenses.

A point system for the suitability of wetlands could permit
owners of small wetlands plots to pool the value of their
property into marketable units.


-- Wetlands are preserved;

-- Owners of wetlands realize a value on their property;

-- The wetlands remain on the tax rolls of local taxing authorities;

-- Shrimpers are given a direct interest in preserving wetlands,
   an issue that’s too remote for them in many cases now;

-- Government doesn’t have to buy vast areas of wetlands.

Presumably, multiple vouchers could be issued on a single parcel,
for different functions: waterfowl hunters could buy a voucher
redeemable for part of a hunting license; sport fishermen could
purchase another, etc..

--Robert E. Lewis

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Received on Tue May 12 14:02:36 1998

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