It's an Endangered Bird! Get the Chainsaw!


More fun with unintended consequences! A new paper explores what happens when landowners freak out because someone thinks they might have seen an endangered bird somewhere in the neighborhood:

We showcase our approach empirically by exploring the extent to which the U.S. Endangered Species Act has altered land development patterns. We report evidence indicating significant acceleration of development directly after each of several events deemed likely to raise fears among owners of habitat land. Our preferred estimate suggests an overall acceleration of land development by roughly one year. We also find from complementary hedonic regression models that habitat parcels declined in value when the habitat map was published, which is consistent with our estimates of the degree of preemption. These results have clear implications for policymakers, who continue to discuss alternative regulatory frameworks for species preservation.

Accelerating a big develpment project by a year is a big deal. Negotiations have to be rushed leading to sub-optimal deals. Developers lose the chance to refine plans. And hasty construction can lead to greater environmental damage to the land being developed and to the surrounding area.