2023 journal article
Conservation motivations and willingness to pay for wildlife management areas among recreational user groups
LAND USE POLICY, 132.
Conservation agencies routinely evaluate the costs and benefits of land management and land acquisition options for wildlife management areas (WMAs). Non-market values, for example visitors’ consumer surplus, are often absent from these comparisons. Better estimates of willingness to pay (WTP) for WMAs will allow managers to quantify consumer surpluses for different user groups, identify opportunities to generate additional conservation funding, and improve communication with users. We used the contingent valuation method to estimate the WTP for conservation of WMAs by different user groups. We used interval censored regression to estimate WTP for each user group and modeled how WTP varied with visitation frequency, demographics, and type of use. Dual users, those who participated in both licensed (hunting, angling, or trapping) and non-licensed (all other) activities, had greater WTP ($200.07, 95% CI [$161.18, $238.95]) than users who exclusively participated in either a single non-licensed ($74.74, 95% CI [$50.45, $99.02]) or a single licensed activity ($68.21, 95% CI [$48.41, $88.00]). Willingness-to-pay increased with the number of visits to WMAs per year, college education, and income. The most popular donation motivations were that respondents cared about WMA conservation (72%), wanted WMAs to be around for future generations (70%) and personally benefited from the conservation of WMAs (64%). Similar to a scope test, this study demonstrated greater WTP by users who participate in more diverse recreation types on WMAs. Additionally, our findings show that WMA users, particularly users who engage in multiple activities including at least one that does not require a license, enjoy large consumer surpluses and thus could be drawn on for additional financial support for WMA conservation.