A new economic analysis says it could cost private landowners and public agencies up to $130 million over the next 20 years to protect nearly two million acres of vernal pools in 36 California and one Oregon county.
The analysis finds the designation could produce economic benefits as well – but says those are difficult to estimate.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing the land be designated as critical habitat to protect 15 species of plants and shrimp that depend on the seasonally flooded pools for survival.
Landowners and developers say the designation could hurt their property values. But the service says the protections are needed if the threatened and endangered species are to survive.