Economic value of ecosystem attributes in the Southern Appalachian highlands
The hedonic travel cost method was used to make preliminary estimates of the economic value of ecosystem attributes found in the Southern Appalachian highlands. Travel costs were estimated using origin-destination data from Wilderness Area permits, and site attribute data were collected by field crews. Ecosystem attribute price frontiers were estimated and used to estimate attribute demand functions. Preliminary analysis of a data subset indicated that wilderness visitors hold relatively high consumer surplus values for viewing large trees, and lesser consumer surplus values for viewing rhododendron and the availability of camping areas. Overall, these initial results indicate that the hedonic travel cost method can be a useful tool to help land managers weigh the costs and benefits of various ecosystem management practices.