COST OF NATIVE PLANT RESTORATIONS
- Cost of restoring
grassland: $450 per plant or $9 million per acre
- Cost of lessingia/ravens
manzanita recovery plan: $23.4 million
- Cost of maintaining
Presidio native plant restoration: $169,000 per year for 90 acres
- Cost of attempt
to eradicate cape ivy in 137 locations in the GGNRA: $600,000 for 3 years. Effort was successful in only 7 locations.
The following is a communication from Craig Dremann (Proprietor of Redwood City Seed Company and The Reveg Edge*) to
the California Native Plant Society NCCP-HCP-forum Discussion dated Fri, 21 May 2004.
Subject: Cost of restorting a CALIFORNIA GRASSLAND set
at $9 million/acre
A UC Davis project, funded by Caltrans, has set the price in 2004
of restoring a low-elevation non-riparian native California grassland from scratch, after conducting two
years of test plots.
The attempt was made by UC Davis to get two acres of California
native grasslands established, but without the use of any any licensed native grassland restoration or licensed ecological
Instead the project used the currently available public-domain restoration technologies,
plus the use of "adaptive management".
In May, 2004, the whole two acre-site contains a total of about 1,000 plants
covering less than 1/20th of an acre after two years of work.
That means that using the current public domain technologies,
and adaptive management techniques, the costs of restoring a low-elevation, non-riparian grassland in California has been effectively set by UC Davis at $450 per plant, or $9,000,000 per acre.
results of this study may have significant impacts on grassland mitigation projects around the State that are being currently
conducted by CALFED, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other agencies, The Nature Conservancy in managing land that they
own (TNC), and the various Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) and permits around California that require native grassland restoration.
actual costs associated with restoring California grasslands,
without the use of licensed technologies, may cause native grasslands not to be developed in the future.
the project can be seen at
*note: Mr. Dreman has a huge financial interest in the implementation
of native plant restorations.
Estimated cost of restoring two endangered species (Raven's manzanita and lessingia)
in Federal Fish & Wildlife recovery plan for these species. See below copied from the recovery plan, which
is on line. The cost is estimated at over $23 million with a time-line out to 2030 for the manzanita and 2020 for the
"Estimated Costs of Recovery: Approximately $23,432,500 (plus costs to be determined).
Costs to be determined include: the costs of public outreach, the costs of implementing vegetation management plans, habitat acquisition for Raven’s manzanita, and site preparation for Raven’s manzanita.
Date of Recovery:
Raven’s manzanita: If recovery criteria are met, downlisting
to threatened could occur by 2030.
San Francisco lessingia: If recovery criteria are met, downlisting to threatened could occur by 2020, and delisting could occur by 2030."
The cost of tree removals is a significant element in the lessingia recovery plan. Approximately 4,100 non-native trees will be removed over a 20-year period (reference: McBride wind study for the recovery plan). This in less than
25% of the number of trees that are proposed to be removed by the NAP plans.
San Francisco Examiner (12/12/05), there is an article about the Presidio trust that projects the cost in 2006 of “continu[ing] stewardship of 90 acres of native plant communities with focus
on endangered species habitat with volunteers” at $169,000.
Despite this major investment, native plant advocates are not
satisfied. The Dune Ecological Restoration Team says they would like more money
and greater emphasis on open space. They “…asked why the Trust is
relying mostly on philanthropic money for expanding the Crissy Field marsh and restoring Mountain Lake.”
The size of the Rec & Park Department’s “natural
areas” is more than 10 times greater than the 90 acres that are being restored in the Presidio (1,105 acres). It seems safe to assume that the cost would be proportionately greater if equivalent results were to be
achieved, assuming that Rec & Park has as many volunteers (which they don’t presently).
4. In the winter 2006 issue of the journal of the California Academy of Science, California Wild, there
is an article about controlling cape ivy. (“A Curse on Cape Ivy,” California Wild, Winter
2006, page 3-7). The article contains this report of the cost of attempts to
eradicate cape ivy in the GGNRA:
“Mechanical control, like flooding, fire, mowing, and pulling
out of weeds by human workers, also offers mixed results. For example, the GGNRA
recently spent $600,000 over three years trying to remove Cape ivy. ‘They measured and mapped and brought in volunteers to pull it out.’ Says Balciunas. ‘They eradicated it in only about seven of the 137 places where it existed. It was a good effort, but not very efficient’.”
The article is also skeptical about attempts to eradicate invasive
species with herbicides, which are used routinely by the Natural Areas Program (the NAP work plans for 2006 that were available
at the recent Capital Planning fair propose to spray in every “natural area”):
“Chemical methods…sometimes get the job done, but
pose hazards to unintended targets such as other vegetation, animals, and humans. Spraying
also requires that most if not all plots of the invading plant be located and destroyed.
Any that are missed can spread their seed and start the infestation all over again.”
July 16, 2006