New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Fred J. Hitzhusen
Chapter 7: Economic Analysis of Water Quality and Recreational Benefits of the Hocking River Valley
7. Economic analysis of water quality and recreational beneﬁts of the Hocking River Valley Allan Sommer and Brent Sohngen INTRODUCTION Outdoor recreation is a highly valued resource to a large number of consumers in the US. Bergstrom and Cordell (1991) suggest that outdoor recreation in the United States is worth $172 billion per year (1997 US dollars). Water-based recreation in particular is an important activity, however, long-term degradation to water quality can reduce its social value. While many watershed groups and grass-roots organizations work locally to try to improve water quality conditions in rivers and streams, these groups unfortunately, do not have access to economic information that can help them make better decisions. Local groups increasingly are searching for information on the beneﬁts of recreational and other uses of river water resources in their regions. When information is not available, as is often the case in small, rural watersheds, groups can choose to go without data or they can work to develop estimates. To develop estimates relevant for their local region, economists suggest that groups have two choices. They can rely on beneﬁt transfer (Smith et al., 2002; Walsh et al., 1992), a method that adopts results from studies in other regions, or they can collect and analyze data on their own. While beneﬁt transfer holds promise as a low-cost method to provide data for local groups, this study presents an example where primary data were collected locally, and used to estimate beneﬁts of water...
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