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Keywords:

  • water management;
  • aquatic ecosystems;
  • SALMOD;
  • AQUARIUS;
  • habitat time series analysis;
  • recreational economics;
  • contingent valuation method;
  • instream flow;
  • Cache La Poudre River;
  • brown trout;
  • rainbow trout

ABSTRACT

This paper details a case study of economic and natural system responses to alternative water management policies in the Cache La Poudre River basin, Colorado, 1980–1994. The case study is presented to highlight the value and application of a conceptual integration of economic, salmonid population, physical habitat, and water allocation models. Five alternative regimes, all intended to increase low winter flows, were investigated. Habitat enhancements created by alternative regimes were translated to population responses and economic benefits. Analysis concluded that instream flows cannot compete on the northern Colorado water rental market; cooperative agreements offer an economically feasible way to enhance instream flows; and establishing an instream flow program on the Cache La Poudre River mainstem is a potentially profitable opportunity. The alliance of models is a dynamic multidisciplinary tool for use in professional settings and offers valuable insight for decision-making processes involved in water management.