Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2018

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Economics (MSECO)

Department

Economics

Advisor

Caroline Noblet

Second Committee Member

Keith Evans

Third Committee Member

Adam Daigneault

Additional Committee Members

Kathleen Bell

Abstract

In this thesis I explore recreator characteristics associated with attitudes toward logging evidence in recreational settings, potential effects of logging on North Maine Woods visitor spending, and the effects of an educational intervention on attitudes.

In Chapter 1, I use data from a random sample of Maine households to examine the associations between demographic characteristics/recreational activities and attitudes towards evidence of forest management in recreational settings. I use three separate ordered logistic regressions to model the associations between respondent characteristics and three types of forest management settings: old growth forest, a managed forest with selective harvest, and seeing/hearing evidence of logging. I find that older, more socially conservative Mainers, those with larger households, and those without P.O. boxes are significantly more likely to give higher desirability scores to seeing/hearing evidence of logging. Those who participate in wildlife watching are more likely to give higher scores to managed forests and undisturbed old growth. Finally those with a P.O box are also more likely to give higher desirability scores to managed forests.

In the second and third chapters, I use data from an intercept survey at the entrance gates to the North Maine Woods (NMW), a 3.5 million acre forest area primarily managed for timber harvest but open to recreation. Data for these analyses also comes from an email follow-up survey. In Chapter 2, I estimate the potential differences in visitor numbers, and therefore spending, if recreators encounter logging evidence. I use a multivariate regression to estimate respondents' expected spending, and a separate regression to estimate the probability that respondents will return to a recreational setting with logging evidence. I combine the probability of returning and expected spending to find expected average per-potential-visitor spending with and without logging evidence. I find that the difference in average per-potential-visitor spending is $194, which would lead to a total difference in spending of about $32 million for the 162,808 recorded visitors to the NMW in 2016.

In Chapter 3, I assess whether education has an impact on NMW recreators' attitudes toward logging evidence, and whether that impact is different based on survey setting and recreator characteristics. I use six different measures of logging evidence attitudes, and run a separate multivariate regression for each. I find no evidence of education affecting NMW recreator attitudes toward logging evidence, and no evidence of differential effects by survey setting or recreator characteristics. These results are important for traditionally timber-dependent communities as they try to diversify their economies to include both forest products industries and outdoor-recreation-based tourism. Here I quantify the effect that forestry could have on outdoor recreator spending in these communities, describe how attitudes toward logging in recreational settings vary among Maine residents, and show that education may not reduce negative attitudes toward logging.

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