Exploring Environmental and Economic Trade-offs Associated with Aggregate Recycling from Decommissioned Forest Roads
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- Thompson, M.P. & Sessions, J. Environ Model Assess (2010) 15: 419. doi:10.1007/s10666-010-9220-8
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Forest road decommissioning is a pro-active mechanism for preventing future habitat degradation and for increasing the likelihood of endangered salmonid survival in the western U.S. High implementation costs however preclude many desirable projects from being undertaken, especially on federally owned land. Previous research and real-world applications have demonstrated the cost savings potential of reusing aggregate recovered from forest roads during decommissioning. These cost savings can effectively subsidize decommissioning projects, suggesting an economic benefit associated with improving environmental benefit. We present a mixed integer, multiple objective formulation to identify the efficient trade-off surface between conflicting economic and environmental criteria, where environmental benefit is defined as the hazard weighted length of roads decommissioned. We compare nondominated frontiers identified with and without the opportunity to recycle aggregate. Our results suggest that aggregate recycling promotes a synergistic relationship between cost savings (subsidy) and environmental performance, where subsidies generally increase with increasing environmental performance. Effective subsidy values can reach 31% of total expenditure, at the maximum level of environmental benefit. Transportation managers are therefore able to recover and reuse a nonrenewable resource, while at the same time promoting economic and environmental efficiency.