"We calculated that replacing lost forage caused by climate change with extra hay will hike costs for the California ranching industry by up to $235 million per year by 2070," said Shaw. "That’s why it's important for policymakers to better understand the value of services that nature provides to California's economy, so that they can work to protect our natural resources and the economy in the face of climate change."

"Fortunately, California's Global Warming Solutions Act provides new economic opportunities for landowners—both inside and outside California—to be part of the climate solution," said economist Belinda Morris, a report coauthor and regional director of EDF's Center for Conservation Incentives. "Landowners can earn credits for capturing carbon on their land that they can sell to offset industrial carbon emissions. These credits will bring in a whole new revenue stream that can benefit the ranching industry, helping ranchers to keep ranching."

Carbon credits are an integral part of the carbon cap-and-trade program that is scheduled to begin this year under the Global Warming Solutions Act. It allows for 8 percent of the law's carbon emission reduction goals to be achieved by offsetting emissions with carbon credits.

"EDF is working with landowners, academic institutions and others to develop cost-effective methods for capturing carbon on rangelands that could generate new revenue streams for ranchers as part of a carbon credits market, while also improving soil fertility," Morris said.

The peer-reviewed study "The Impact of Climate Change on California’s Ecosystem Services" is available online at http://www.springerlink.com/content/q773hv252l138240/fulltext.html.