Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Resource Economics and Policy


Kevin J. Boyle

Second Committee Member

Kathleen P. Bell

Third Committee Member

William A. Halteman


Economic evidence reveals that preserved open space fosters services that are valued by members of society. However, when making the municipal decision to preserve land, communities must decide what type of open space to preserve, and must also deal with entities purchasing land and affecting tax revenues. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has made efforts in recent years to expand the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) system. This research seeks to determine if residential property owners value NWRs, and if they value NWRs differently than other types of open space, including conservation land, agricultural land, sports parks, golf courses, and cemeteries. The hedonic method is used to estimate the benefits of each open space type that accrue to surrounding residential property owners. The hedonic models used here explain the sale price of a residential property as a function of numerous land, structure, and neighborhood characteristics, in addition to open space characteristics. The open space characteristics included in this research include measures of continuous distance from each property to the nearest open space of each type, discrete measures of distance to the closest open space of each type, continuous measures of distance to the closest public and private open space, and an index describing the diversity of open space types evaluated at 100 and 1,000 meters around a home. As such, the hedonic method is utilized to estimate implicit prices associated with each of these open space characteristics. The study area for this research is centered on a National Wildlife Refuge in central Middlesex County, Massachusetts called Great Meadows. The area is located approximately 20 miles northwest of Boston and is convenient for investigating the price effects of NWRs because of the abundance of residential properties adjacent to the refuge. The property sales data used in this study consists of residential transactions occurring between January, 1993 and December, 1998. Open space GIs data was obtained from the Massachusetts Office of Geographic and Environmental Information. Results suggest that National Wildlife Refuges are valued by residential property owners. Specifically, a property located 100 meters closer to the Great Meadows NWR than a neighboring property has a price premium of $791. Further, Great Meadows is valued more highly than agricultural land, cemeteries, and conservation land but not valued significantly different than sports fields and golf courses.