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Rim Fire Environmental Losses

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Tacoma, WA — A new study outlines what environmental benefits were lost in the Rim Fire. Earth Economics out of Tacoma, Washington completed a 45-page report for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission which gets its water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

“The Economic Impact of the 2013 Rim Fire on Natural Lands,” study estimates the loss of environmental benefits or ecosystem services ranged from $100 million to $736 million. The report attributed the large range to the fact that more trees and vegetation will likely be lost in the coming year due to the impact of the fire. Some of the environmental benefits included recreation, water supply, air quality, and aesthetics among other categories. The study findings were taken by the group in September when the fire was 84% contained. The results were based on satellite data from the Rim Fire perimeter and tree damage.

A land ownership category was also used to estimate losses. Owners included the Bureau of Land Management, Private Lands, Stanislaus National Forest, and Yosemite National Park. The study found the direct damage to private lands within the Rim Fire perimeter at $10 million to $62 million, about 10% of the total damages. Using previous data from areas around the fire, the private property value loss was estimated at between $49.7 million and $265 million. The report stated, “These estimates imply (but do not include) associated declines in property taxes for local and state tax districts.”

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