Date of Award

5-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Forestry

Major Professor

Donald G. Hodges

Abstract

In order to assure that public lands are being used in an efficient manner, both market and non-market values of these lands must be compared. Two popular recreational pursuits, off-highway vehicle recreation and rock climbing, were analyzed using basic economic modeling techniques to provide insight into user behavior as well as estimates of value. The scope of the study was off-highway vehicle recreation in the state of Tennessee and rock climbing at the Obed Wild and Scenic River. The objectives were to: i) document use numbers for both recreational pursuits, ii) analyze individual demographics of both user groups, iii) model user behavior for both· user groups, iv) identify the acceptance/effectiveness of two proposed fee programs for off-highway vehicle recreation, v) estimate the value of both recreational pursuits in terms of consumer surplus, and vi) formulate management prescriptions based on these findings. Data for the OHV portion of the survey was obtained from both on-site and phone surveys conducted throughout the state of Tennessee. Rock climbing survey data were obtained through on-site surveys performed at the Obed Wild and Scenic River in Morgan County, Tennessee. In addition to use numbers and personal demographics, travel cost expenditures and annual trip estimates were obtained for both types of recreation. Poisson regression techniques were used to estimate patterns in user behavior as well as various consumer surplus measures. In addition, logistic regression was used to analyze contingent valuation payment card data to determine user acceptance of two proposed fee programs. As expected by theory, travel costs were found to have a negative effect on the number of trips taken for each type of recreation. Consumer surplus estimates per trip were found to range between $46 and $61 depending on the type of off-highway vehicle used while consumer surplus per trip for rock climbing was found to be significantly higher at $170. Based on these estimates of use and trip taking behavior, general management recommendations are suggested for both types of recreation.

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