Date of Award

12-2001

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Resource Economics and Policy

Advisor

Kevin J. Boyle

Second Committee Member

Mario F. Teisl

Third Committee Member

Kathleen P. Bell

Abstract

The research presented here consists of two essays that describe applications of non-market valuation techniques to current land use issues. The individual studies were designed to address important methodological and policy issues, respectively. In the first essay, Geographic Information System (GIs) data are used to develop variables representing the physical extent and visibility of surrounding land use/cover features in a hedonic model of a rural/suburban housing market. Three equations are estimated to determine if views affect property prices, and, further, if omission of visibility variables leads to omitted variable bias. Results indicate that the visibility measures are important determinants of prices and that their exclusion may lead to incorrect conclusions regarding the significance and signs of other environmental variables. The second essay represents a synthesis of findings from focus groups conducted in five states. The focus groups were the first step in a study designed to identify the types of attributes of farmland and agricultural systems that are important to the public and should be preserved as open space. Modeling of responses to a variety of choice exercises provides several insights. Overall, the results suggest that open space protection through preservation of agricultural lands is an important issue to the public. Preferences for farmland preservation vary depending on the region of the country and the attributes of the land. The physical location of the farm, the type of farm and the farming practices used are important to people, all of which are directly and indirectly influenced by state and federal agricultural policies.

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