Valuing Environmental Resources in the Palos-Orland Region: A Report to the Palos-Orland Conservation Committee
Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago, Working Papers 01/2000;
This report has used an exhaustive inventory of existing economic research in an attempt to summarize the monetary values for natural resources in the Palos-Orland region. The values for the resources examined in this study are obtained by calibrating the list of resources in the region with studies of similar ones in different, comparable communities.
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ABSTRACT: This research estimates the recreational value of single-day visits to two nature centers within Metropolitan Chicago. The motivation for this research is the proposed Ford Calumet Environmental Center in the City's Calumet region -- a public investment on the order of $10 million. To provide an estimate of the possible public benefits accruing from this public investment and to assist in prioritizing the restoration of natural areas in the Calumet, individuals visiting the North Park Village Nature Center and the Sand Ridge Nature Center were surveyed during the summer and fall of 2005. The visitor survey results were used to estimate travel-cost demand functions for urban nature center visits and to identify that the consumer surplus accruing to visitors of nature centers in metropolitan Chicago. The accruing aggregate consumer surplus from the existing nature centers is quite high - between $500 and $900 per visitor per year, depending on the methodology employed, with a per visit value of approximate $230. When aggregated over potential users, these results provide evidence to suggest that accessible urban ecosystem fragments are highly valuable public resources in the metropolitan Chicago region. Benefits transfer estimates to the City of Chicago's investment in the Ford Calumet Environmental Center identify potential welfare gains that greatly the cost of restoration. On a per-acre basis the likely public benefits from further natural area restorations are on the order several hundred thousand dollars.