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Linking Forest to Faucets in a Distant Municipal Area: Public Support for Forest Restoration and Water Security in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Dadhi Adhikari, Jennifer A. Thacher, Janie Chermak and Robert Berrens
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Jennifer A. Thacher: Department of Economics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA

Water Economics and Policy (WEP), 2017, vol. 03, issue 01, 1-34

Abstract: Reducing wildfire risk through forest restoration is vital for the sustainability of watersheds and the human systems that depend upon them. However, identifying public support and securing necessary funding to cover restoration costs is an important implementation challenge. Payment for ecosystem services models may help meet restoration objectives. While examples exist that show how funds can be generated from the public living near forestlands, an unresolved issue is whether households in a relatively distant municipal area would significantly support wildfire risk reduction efforts. This is an important issue as distant households often receive benefits from wildfire risk reductions, such as water source protection for municipal drinking water supply. The objective of this paper is to analyze survey-based contingent valuation data to investigate public support among urban Albuquerque, New Mexico (NM) households for restoration of a watershed that impacts the urban water supply security, but is spatially removed from the urban area. Econometric results show evidence of both significant public support for forest restoration-linking forests to faucets- and the importance of accounting for respondent uncertainty. The latter involves both: (i) uncertainty in the preferences for water security as an important collectively provided good (“preference uncertainty”); and (ii) uncertainty in the possibility that restoration activities across a forested landscape or watershed might actually deliver improved water security (“delivery uncertainty”). Econometric estimation results from a Double Hurdle model indicate a mean annual household willingness to pay (WTP) of US$64.44 (with a 95% of confidence interval of US$61.57–US$67.31), and corresponding median WTP of US$37.76 (US$36.16–US$39.37), for forest restoration that reduces wildfire risk and provides water source protection.

Keywords: Contingent valuation; forest restoration; wildfire risk reduction; water supply (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1142/S2382624X16500193

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