KWRRI Research Reports


The pressures of population growth, urbanization, and improved transportation are diminishing the availability of quality naturalistic sites for recreation while at the same time producing greater demands for their use. One cause contributing to the reduction in acreage in naturalistic areas is the construction of reservoirs. The recreational hunting value of the naturalistic area to be inundated should be considered as a negative consequence in the economic evaluation of a proposed reservoir site.

This study utilized hunting data collected by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, from the 120 Kentucky counties to estimate the economic, value of the average hunter-day associated with seven selected species groups (squirrels, rabbit, bobwhite, farm menace, sectional winged, deer and waterfowl) in each of the counties.

The study sought to develop a methodology for estimating average annual values of (1) the number of recreational hunters and (2) the economic worth of their hunting. The gravity model was developed into a form applicable to the estimation of average annual hunter-trips as a function of distances from the site to surrounding population centers. The economic value of a hunter-trip was implied from the visitation estimation equation by converting distance to economic units. Parameter values for use in the model were estimated from the available data and tabulated.

The methodology was applied to Rough River Reservoir, which inundated 5,100 acres in Western Kentucky in 1960. The average annual recreational hunting value lost was $2,327 just under $330/year per square mile. Values per hunter trip ranged from $1.13 for squirrel to $2.89 for deer. The annual number of hunter-trips was estimated to be about 170 per square mile, almost half for rabbits.

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Funding Information

"The Economic Value of Natural Areas for Recreational Hunting" is based on research performed as part of a project entitled "The Economic Impact of Flood Control Reservoirs" (OWRR Project No. A-006-KY) sponsored by the University of Kentucky Water Resources Institute and supported in part by funds provided by the United States Department of the Interior as authorized under the Water Resources Research Act of 1964, Public Law 88-379.