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Mountain Biking by the Lake

Recreation Valuation & Planning

In addition to being avid outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Highland economists are experienced in estimating the non-market value of recreation amenities and experiences to recreationists.  We also have expertise in identifying the market value of developing recreation-based businesses.  Highland economists have analyzed the value of recreation and recreation-related businesses in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Arizona. 


To public agencies desiring to understand the tradeoffs between recreation and other resource uses, and to public and private resource managers determining the most valuable use of their lands, Highland Economics offers the following services: 

  • Valuation of instream flows for water-based recreation, including fishing and boating


  • Valuation of open space and natural areas for recreation


  • Lanscape anlaysis to identify areas most suitable for recreation development
    versus other uses such as habitat protection


  • Recreation benefits of environmental improvements, new facilities, or access


  • Market studies to identify demand for new recreation enterprises


  • Cost benefit analyses of recreation projects


  • Financial feasibility studies and associated pro-forma financial projections of
    recreation-related businesses 


  • Economic impacts on regional economies of changes in the quality or availability of recreation opportunities


Sample Recreation Valuation and Planning Projects


Value of Outdoor Recreation from Conservation Stewardship, Watsonville Slough California


Highland Economics estimated the total economic value of an ecologically important area under three land use scenarios.  To estimate the value of recreation use we estimated recreation visitation to the area under each scenario based on data from inventorying recreation sites in the county, and then evaluating and estimating recreation use patterns and overall visitation levels (using data from surveys, interviews and published documents). We then estimated the value recreation visitation based on the uniqueness of the site, the types of visitor amenities and access offered under each land use scenario, the proximity to  alternative recreation locations, and the expected types of recreation activities pursued by visitors. We used @Risk software to conduct sensitivity analyses and run Monte Carlo simulations, which tested our assumptions and provided a range of likely values. Our analysis will be used to help inform decision-making regarding the management of the study area.


Recreation and Tourism Development Value of Wildlife Habitat, Montana


Highland Economics evaluated the recreation and tourism economic development value of enhancing wetlands and upland habitat in North Central Montana.  The research was part of an economic development study to evaluate the economic value and feasibility of wildlife-related recreational opportunities, including wildlife viewing and hunting, and visitor services such as a lodge and guiding services.  na. We assessed recreation market demand and participation rates for various wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities through an analysis of comparable wetland and other water habitat recreation sites and their recreation use levels.  We projected visitation levels at the proposed wetland enhancement site based the visitor amenities to be offered, and also estimated the economic development potential and net revenue benefit of the proposed lodge and other guest service businesses.


Tourism and Recreation Development Potential, Confidential Client

Highland Economics documented the type and level of recreation and visitor use on and adjacent to the Hualapai Indian Reservation, including recreation visitation levels at Grand Canyon National Park,  as well as evaluated the water use associated with this recreation.  This work supported a market analysis of future recreation opportunities on the Reservation.


Recreation as a Benefit of Open Space, Sonoma County California

Highland Economics is assessing the economic benefits of an ecologically important area in Sonoma County, CA. We are estimating the benefits of conservatoin easements that maintain this area as open space. These benefits may include: Water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, aesthetic, and recreational values. To assess these benefits, we will incorporate a variety of economic methods, which could include replacement costs, avoidance costs, and benefit transfer. The finished report will empower our client with a greater understanding of the study area’s open space value.



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