|Abstract or Summary
- The current thesis presents contingent valuation research incorporating social psychological measures that investigates recreationists' willingness to pay recreation access fees at McDonald-Dunn Forest, Oregon. Context is provided through an extensive literature review of recreation fee management, issues and concerns related to recreation fees, recreationists' attitudes toward fees, relevant social psychological theory and contingent valuation methods, and relevant information about the case study. The first manuscript explores the relationships between positive and negative beliefs about recreation fees, supportive and unsupportive attitudes about a new fee program, and willingness to pay four types of access fees. Positive beliefs were related to supportive attitudes about fees and had a positive relationship with willingness to pay them, whereas negative beliefs were related to unsupportive attitudes and had a negative relationship with willingness to pay fees. The second manuscript seeks to advance contingent valuation methods by incorporating attitudes toward three mandatory access fees as predictors in logit and ordinary least squares regressions estimating willingness to pay such fees. Supportive attitudes were associated with increased willingness to pay fees, and unsupportive attitudes were associated with decreased willingness or unwillingness to pay recreation fees. The strength of attitude was influential, as well. For example, those who "strongly supported" a fee type were more likely to pay the fee and pay higher amounts than those who "supported", "opposed", or "strongly opposed" the fee. Lastly, results showed that the inclusion of attitude measures as predictor variables in economic models estimating willingness to pay recreation fees vastly improved model performance. The results presented in the two manuscripts indicate that recreationists are a heterogeneous group: they vary in their beliefs and attitudes regarding recreation fees, in addition to conventional defining characteristics such as demographics, and these differences are often observed in their willingness to pay recreation fees. Researchers can benefit in a few ways from the results of this study. Current estimates of prices recreationists are willing to pay for four types of access fees at an urban forest are provided. Two of these fees have been overlooked in recent studies, and most studies have not examined more than one fee simultaneously from a single sample population. These two limitations of past research were addressed in the current study. The results also indicate that combining contingent valuation methods and social psychology can be a very necessary, useful, and thorough application of non-market valuation. Recreation managers can use these results to better understand recreationists, their preferences and perceptions of recreation fees, and their willingness to pay such fees. Additionally, managers can use this information to develop successful, efficient, and socially acceptable fee programs, and to tactfully interact and communicate with recreationists. Future research should focus on further exploring the relationships between beliefs, attitudes, and willingness to pay specific recreation fees in a variety of areas with unique sample populations and recreation resources. Providing additional estimates of tolerable fee prices, and properly incorporating social psychological measures should be a priority in future research.