Toward Understanding Recreation Fees: Impacts on People with Extremely Low Income Levels


  • Robert C. Burns
  • Alan R. Graefe


This paper builds on and extends analysis of the question posed by More and Stevens (2000) in the title of their article, “Do user fees exclude low-income people from resource-based recreation?” Our analysis differs from More and Stevens’ earlier paper by isolating responses of very low-income respondents (those earning less than $10,000) per year and by focusing on the effects of income on a variety of attitudinal and behavioral variables related to National Forest recreation use. Data were collected through a telephone survey of the population in two Pacific Northwest states. Results showed that the lowest-income individuals were quite distinct in their attitudes toward and uses of the national forests. However, the relationship between income and forest use was complex and non-linear. Consistent with previous studies, most people of all incomes generally accept forest recreation fee programs and would rather see the fees than the alternative of reduced services or closed recreation areas. Respondents in this study showed support for policies that allow people to receive a free pass in turn for volunteering at a site. If public land agencies wish to remain relevant to the changing population of America, they will need to do more than adjust their fee programs.





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