Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

PARK, LOGAN

Abstract

Wilderness areas provide a wide array of quality nature experiences including primitive recreational opportunities in a primeval condition. However, a lot of these ecological and pristine sites suffer from disturbance and environmental degradation by the exhaustive human recreational use on campsites. Most of the impacts associated with camping gradually become a critical concern since they can be devastating to a wilderness environment and the affiliated experience. This study employed the contingent valuation method to determine peoples' willingness to pay for the preservation of the Panther Den Wilderness if campsites were restricted /limited, and to estimate an economic value of non-market goods and services affiliated to the preservation and use values of the Panther Den Wilderness. A Contingent valuation questionnaire was administered to gather information on the respondent's intentions and to determine what they would be willing to pay under a hypothetical scenario. Moon's WTP model estimated the willingness to pay relationship with a set of explanatory and socio-demographic variables including bid sizes, miles traveled, recreation times, campsite impacts observed, age, gender, and education. Results revealed that there was a clear relationship between the respondents' willingness to pay, the pre-determined bid-size/fee level, and the distance traveled to the Panther Den Wilderness, hence; the correlation between the variables was highly significant. The estimated mean willingness to pay value for the preservation of the Panther Den Wilderness was $9.56 per visitor. Overall, the estimated results and mean willingness to pay value served as the interpretation of an assessment which clearly revealed that outdoor recreation users were willing to pay a user fee for the preservation of the Panther Den Wilderness regardless of campsite limitations or restrictions.

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