Previous research on prescribed fire has shown that fire positively enhances deer habitat. Enhanced deer habitat increases the deer population, thereby leading to better hunting. Two approaches were used to estimate a production function relating deer harvest response to prescribed burning, holding constant other environmental variables. We compared a macro level, time-series model that treated the entire SJRD as one area, and a micro geographic information system (GIS) model that disaggregated the Ranger District into the 37 hunting locations reported by hunters.
The net economic value of the resulting additional deer hunting benefits was estimated by using the Travel Cost Method (TCM) and the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM). By using TCM analysis, we found that the change in consumer surplus or net willingness-to-pay (WTP) is $257 per additional deer harvested due to the additional trips the hunter would take in response to increasing deer harvest. From CVM, we found the change in consumer surplus to be $222 per additional deer harvested. The mid-point marginal consumer surplus of TCM and CVM, therefore, is $240 per deer harvested.
The initial deer hunting benefit in response to the current magnitude of prescribed burning of 1,100 acres ranges from $3,840 to $7,920, depending on the production model used. However, the incremental gains for additional prescribed burning are quite similar across models: the annual economic hunting benefits of increasing prescribed burning from its current magnitude of 1,100 acres to 4,810 acres is $1,920, regardless of the model used. Likewise, for a second increase of 3,700 acres of prescribed burning to 8,510 acres, the deer hunting benefits are calculated to be between $960 and $1,200 each year, which are fairly similar despite the different modeling approaches. The costs of prescribed burning on the San Bernardino National Forest range from $210 to $240 per acre. Using the information in this research, the full incremental costs of burning the first 1,100 acres would be $231,000, with each additional 3,700 acres burned costing $779,100. The deer hunting benefits represent at most about 3.4 percent of the total costs of the first 1,100 acres of prescribed burning.
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