Wildlife management areas (WMAs) are important part of the public land system for forest-based recreation in the United States. Despite the growing literature on the economics of outdoor recreation, information about the economic benefit of visitors’ access to WMAs, common to 35 states nationally, is lacking. WMAs differ from other public areas because of their unique focus on promoting conservation as well as consumptive and nonconsumptive uses. With the data collected from a mixed-mode survey of WMA permit holders, this study estimated a travel cost model of WMA visitation with price interactions to quantify the economic value of WMA access and evaluate whether and how the value of access varies among recreation activities. The results indicate heterogeneity in the per trip value of access among activities, ranging annually from $95 for hunting to $37 for angling and $32 for other non-consumptive activities. When aggregated across the statewide system, the total net benefit that WMA permit holders enjoy from having access to WMAs was as high as $219 million annually, a $138 per acre in an annual net benefit to permit holders. In addition, personal characteristics, including party size and hunting as the primary purpose of visiting, as well as WMA characteristics, including camping, boat access, and wheelchair accessible blinds, had positive effects on WMA access demand. These findings offer new insights into understanding the public value of conservation areas and help justify investing public funds in establishing and maintaining WMAs.
Shattuck, Clara; Poudyal, Neelam C.; Bowker, J.M.; Joshi, Omkar. 2022. Differential values associated with outdoor recreational access among the wildlife management area permit holders. Forest Policy and Economics. 141(1): 102764-. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102764.