The choices in wildland ecosystem management are becoming more costly and controversial. Legal mandates, of which the Resources Planning Act (RPA) is the prime example, require the use of economic analysis in planning. Economics though often subject to abuse, offers a tool kit of concepts for thinking about choices. There is nothing in benefit-cost analysis that requires analysts to quantify inappropriately or to ignore incidence and equity questions. Benefit-cost analysis, as a tool for displaying options, values, and costs in suitable accounting stances, should be a basic element in any systematic analysis of a practical problem. The most valuable use of economics is in framing a disciplined thinking process for the precise definition of objectives, decision criteria, options, costs, and accounting stances. Economic thinking is valuable as a solvent for specious arguments and as an aid in listening to the future.