Date of Graduation


Document Type



Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge protects a unique ecosystem in the Mid-Atlantic region. Because public goods such as ecosystem preservation are not sold in markets the value of this type of good is not always obvious. Policy makers need guidance on how society should allocate resources to preserve wildlife habitat and wilderness recreation opportunities. The goals of this study were to measure the economic benefits associated with providing a wildlife refuge in Tucker County, West Virginia; determine how value for the refuge is affected by distance of the respondents from the refuge; and determine the types of activities and amenities that influence the valuation of the refuge. The Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) is one tool used to measure benefits associated with non-market goods. CVM directly asks individuals about their willing to pay for a change in the quality or quantity of a good or service. The Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge survey consisted of a nationwide survey of households from across the contiguous United States. In total, 390 households provided completed surveys to the valuation questions. Respondents were asked how much they would be willing to pay to preserve the wildlife refuge using a dichotomous choice format. Respondents were also asked about their reasons for being willing to pay or not being willing to pay. Statistically significant variables that explain willingness to pay for the Refuge include income, the likelihood that the respondent will visit the Refuge, and the amount of the bid with which the respondent was presented. Previous knowledge about the National Wildlife Refuge system, participation in outdoor recreational or sporting activities, past visits to wildlife refuges or national parks, and distance from the Refuge were not statistically significant. No distance effect can be detected, suggesting that the market for this good is nationwide. Willingness to pay for a wildlife refuge in Canaan Valley is estimated to be {dollar}8.54 per household. Total willingness to pay for the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge by U.S. consumers is estimated to be {dollar}174 million.