The effectiveness and efficiency of environmental NGOs on recovering endangered and threatened species is not well studied in current literature. This paper provides the first estimation of the effect of both environmental NGOs and government spending on the abundance of threatened species using watershed panel data on conservation spending and the abundance of anadromous Pacific salmon and steelhead from the northwestern United States. We develop a two-way fixed effects identification strategy that leverages salmon’s biological features and exploits substantial within watershed variation in spending and species abundance. Our results show that both NGO and government conservation spending has a positive impact on the abundance of threatened anadromous fish. We combine our main results with previous non-market benefit estimates from our study region and show that the benefits of recovering Oregon Coast Coho salmon exceeds the costs which are estimated from our model.
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