Recreation Costs of Endangered Species Protection: Evidence from Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Marine Resource Economics
2018 33(1), 1-25


Management of public lands often involves competing uses and difficult tradeoffs. In this article, we examine the impact of an economically important, policy-relevant public land management regulation designed to protect coastal biodiversity. We focus our attention on the land use conflict at Cape Hatteras National Seashore between off-road vehicle (ORV) access and nesting habitat protection for a number of endangered species. We combine site choice and participation data to estimate a repeated discrete choice model of recreational angler behavior in response to time-varying access restrictions. Our results suggest the economic costs of this policy are relatively modest, ranging from $403,000 to $2.07 million annually. Our results provide general support for the National Park Service’s recently implemented ORV management plan, as an upper bound of recreation costs is likely less than conservative estimates of the benefits associated with endangered species protection.