AuthorWeber, Matthew August
Committee ChairMaddock III, Thomas
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis research documents the societal worth of riparian resources in the Southwestern United States. Two case studies are developed for this inquiry, the first being Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Southern Arizona, an area containing one of the last perennial streams in the Sonoran Desert bioregion. A hiking use value per visitor-day is estimated via the Travel Cost Method at $25.06 and $17.31 (2003 dollars) respectively for two access sites. I hypothesize the value discrepancy to indicate a premium for remote recreation. These valuation results compare well with other published recreational use value estimates, though it is the only valuation study associated with instream recreation in the Sonoran Desert of which I am aware. Indeed the environmental valuation literature is thin for the desert region in any respect.The second case study values public restoration preferences for the Albuquerque reach of the Rio Grande in Central New Mexico. A Choice Experiment and Contingent Valuation are employed within an original survey instrument to estimate human values for various restoration strategies planned for the region. Through focus groups and stakeholder interactions four restoration attributes were defined: vegetation density; tree type; fish and wildlife population; and natural river processes. Quantified values for Albuquerque area households were estimated for each restoration attribute level of change, allowing construction of total benefits anticipated for various restoration scenarios considered for the region. This research is at the vanguard of quantifying human benefit for saltcedar control, and this particular restoration characteristic was the most highly valued of all, at $59.03 per household per year. Full restoration was valued at $156.60 per household per year. These results have meaning beyond the study area since river restoration efforts are increasing across the Western US, with many focusing on controlling saltcedar, an exotic invasive plant.The final phase of this research integrates riparian valuation concepts within a dynamic simulation framework to guide systems-level riparian management. Control variables are combined with known valuation pathways to predict riparian investment funding optimal in benefit-cost ratio. The model is built for the Middle Rio Grande in Albuquerque, however it was designed for easy adaptation to other Southwestern riparian areas. A detailed forest module is included, through which seven defined forest stocks may be managed through thinning, clearing, and revegetation. River management may occur through environmental river flow releases, reconstructing stream-overbank connections, and wetland construction. Recreational amenities may be improved through the four infrastructure categories of trails, toilet facilities, picnic areas, and parking areas. Benefits and costs are estimated through original research and region benefit transfer, and tracked for different investment scenarios to predict the highest-return strategies over a 100 year planning horizon. A sensitivity analysis is used to suggest areas of future research.