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Federal, state and local government agencies have historically played a significant role in providing outdoor recreational facilities for public use. Public agencies provide campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, access to swimming and boating sites, interpretive facilities and programs, and numerous other types of recreational facilities. Until recently, very little attention was devoted to the costs associated with the provision of these facilities. Public funds were allocated to the construction and operation of the facilities without much concern for the economic consequences of these actions. However, during the last decade several studies have documented the cost of providing publicly supplied outdoor recreational facilities and some of the consequences. These studies have analyzed a wide range of facilities managed by state and federal agencies.

The objective of this project is to measure the cost of providing various outdoor recreational facilities in Maine. The project was initiated in the Spring of 1981 following a meeting of personnel from several of the public agencies that provide recreational services and facilities. Several concerns were voiced at that meeting, including the need to revise user fees, uncertainty regarding the level of future agency funding, lack of information about provision costs, the need to document provision costs for legislative bodies, and questions regarding whether users should pay a larger share of the costs of providing the recreational facilities. A cost of provision study of a wide range of public recreational facilities seemed to be a first step in addressing many of these concerns. A cooperative agreement was written in which the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maine at Orono would perform the study with funding provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Agencies participating in the study include the Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Baxter State Park, Evans Notch Ranger District of the White Mountains National Forest, and Acadia National Park. The actual facilities included in the study are shown in Figure 1.

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Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station




Outdoor recreation, outdoor recreation cost, cost of provision studies


Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration

B793: Estimation of the Cost of Providing Publicly-Supported Outdoor Recreational Facilities in Maine