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The Effects of Fire on Recreation Demand in Montana

Author(s): Hayley Hesseln, John B. Loomis, Armando Gonzalez-Caban
Year Published: 2004

Wildfire and prescribed fire have the potential to affect user demand and value for recreation, making such information important to the decision-making process for fire managers. However, such information is not always readily available. We conducted surveys on 22 sites within four national forests in western Montana to determine fire effects on recreation demand for hiking and biking, and net economic benefits to visitors. Net value per trip for hikers was $37. There was no statistical difference for consumer surplus between hiking and biking. Although there were differences in existing visitation between hikers and bikers, there were no statistical differences between the two groups as a result of fire effects. We found that hikers' demand decreased slightly in areas recovering from crown fire and increased in areas recovering from prescribed fire. Bikers' response to both types of fire was the opposite of hikers; for example, bikers showed a slight decrease in annual trips as areas recovered from prescribed fire. Individual value per trip was unaffected by both wild and prescribed fire for both activity groups. Although our recreation demand shifts in response to fire were statistically significant, the magnitude of the predicted changes in demand were not substantial from a managerial perspective suggesting that recreation users in Montana are not affected by fire characteristics resulting from prescribed burns or crown fires. Demand, however, decreased by both user groups as area burned increased and the amount of burn viewed from trails increased, suggesting that the size and extent of burns do affect visitation.

Citation: Hesseln H, Loomis JB, González-Cabán A. 2004. The Effects of Fire on Recreation Demand in Montana. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 19 (1): 47–53. https://doi.org/10.1093/wjaf/19.1.47
Topic(s): Fire & Economics, Fire & Recreation
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 17485
Record updated: Apr 11, 2018