Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Natural Resources

Major Professor

Donald G. Hodges, Neelam C. Poudyal

Committee Members

Christopher D. Clark, Charles B. Sims, John M. Zobel

Abstract

Millions of people annually participate in a variety of nature-based outdoor activities on public lands. While the recreation spending these people bring to an area is helpful in characterizing the economic contribution of recreation activities in the local economy, the total value of many natural resource amenities for recreational use is not fully understood. This is mainly because of the non-market nature of natural resource amenities, which often lack market data to characterize the monetary value. Revealed preference non-market valuation methods such as travel cost modeling allow modeling demand for access to sites of recreational potential with respect to cost of travel and thereby estimate the economic value of site access. The essays included in this dissertation utilize methods grounded in travel cost theory to address three unique problems related to economic valuation of outdoor recreation resources.This first essay employs an individual travel cost model with onsite survey data of national forests visitors to investigate the economic value of downhill skiing. The model is extended to project the potential effects of climate change on demand and value of downhill skiing in the foreseeable future. The second essay applies a similar valuation framework on nationwide visitor survey data to assess and compare the demand for and value of non-motorized boating access between Wild and Scenic Rivers designated and non-designated rivers. Although no significant difference exists between designated and non-designated rivers, the findings of this study underscore the importance of various site characteristics in recreational value. The third essay utilizes a zonal travel cost model of hunting permit application to address a unique issue of valuation in the presence of lottery-rationed demand. Specific findings incorporated in these three essays and the overall conclusions drawn from these studies will help resource managers, and planners understand the net benefit and public value of nature-based recreation resources and guide in management and policy making.

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