Public preferences for ecological indicators used in Everglades restoration
G Andrew Stainback,
John H Lai,
Elizabeth F Pienaar,
Damian C Adam,
Ruscena Wiederholt and
PLOS ONE, 2020, vol. 15, issue 6, 1-23
The Everglades is one of the largest wetland ecosystems in the world covering almost 18,000 square miles from central Florida southward to Florida Bay. Over the 20th century, efforts to drain the Everglades for agriculture and development severely damaged the ecosystem so that today roughly 50% of the historic flow of water through the Everglades has been diverted elsewhere. In an attempt to restore the Everglades, the U.S. Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in 2000, expected to cost over $16 billion and to take several decades to complete. We used the results from a stated preference choice experiment (SPCE) survey of Florida households to estimate the willingness to pay for several ecological attributes related to CERP performance indicators likely to be impacted by Everglades restoration. We also used a latent class model (LCM) to explore preference heterogeneity among respondents. On average, survey respondents were willing to pay for improvements in all of the attributes included in the survey, namely increased populations of wading birds, American alligators, endangered snail kites, and spotted seatrout, and reduced polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. Willingness to pay was highest for reduced polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
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