Title

Greenbelts in the Cornbelt: Riparian Wetlands, Intrinsic Values and Market Failure

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title

Environment and Planning A

Publisher

EPA

Publication Date

1-1-1990

Volume

22

Issue

10

First Page

1375

Last Page

1388

Abstract

Historical agricultural practices have severely undermined the recreational quality and ecological integrity of Midwestern streams, rivers, and reservoirs. Reestablishing riparian forest corridors would create wetland buffers partially protecting water quality and aquatic ecosystems from agricultural runoff. On the basis of an explicitly spatial market-failure model of land use in the riparian (floodplain) zone, contingent valuation survey methods are used to estimate the recreational and intrinsic benefits of improved 'river quality' in selected Iowa and Illinois river basins. It is found that willingness to pay for river quality is related to income and recreational participation, but not to other spatial or socioeconomic variables. Intrinsic values are found to be expressible as economic values similar to that of other public goods. Together with recreational values, they are larger on a per-acre basis, in many instances, than the production of agricultural commodities. This suggests that the purpose of programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program should be enlarged from their present focus on soil conservation to include water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and intrinsic values.

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