Olden, Julian D, & Tamayo, Mariana (2014) Incentivizing the Public to Support Invasive Species Management: Eurasian Milfoil Reduces Lakefront Property Values. PLoS ONE 9(10): e110458. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110458
Abstract. Economic evaluations of invasive species are essential for providing comprehensive assessments of the benefits and costs of publicly-funded management activities, yet many previous investigations have focused narrowly on expenditures to control spread and infestation. We use hedonic modeling to evaluate the economic effects of Eurasian milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) invasions on lakefront property values of single-family homes in an urban-suburban landscape. Milfoil often forms dense canopies at the water surface, diminishing the value of ecosystem services (e.g., recreation, fishing) and necessitating expensive control and management efforts. We compare 1,258 lakeshore property sale transactions (1995–2006) in 17 lakes with milfoil and 24 un-invaded lakes in King County, Washington (USA). After accounting for structural (e.g., house size), locational (e.g., boat launch), and environmental characteristics (e.g., water clarity) of lakes, we found that milfoil has a significant negative effect on property sales price ($94,385 USD lower price), corresponding to a 19% decline in mean property values. The aggregate cost of milfoil invading one additional lake in the study area is, on average, $377,542 USD per year. Our study illustrates that invasive aquatic plants can significantly impact property values (and associated losses in property taxes that reduce local government revenue), justifying the need for management strategies that prevent and control invasions. We recommend coordinated efforts across Lake Management Districts to focus institutional support, funding, and outreach to prevent the introduction and spread of milfoil. This effort will limit opportunities for re-introduction from neighboring lakes and incentivize private landowners and natural resource agencies to commit time and funding to invasive species management.