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Economics Research Institute Study Paper




Utah State University Department of Economics

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A recent public lands settlement between the State of Utah and the federal Bureau of Land Management releases millions of acres from de facto wilderness management. BLM will use settlement guidelines to manage its land in all other states except Alaska. Released acreage will be opened, in principle, to agricultural and mining use, as well as Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation. This paper analyzes changes in OHV visitation patterns under the settlement, as well as estimating the consumer surplus accruing to OHV users. The model indicates that OHV visitation will shift toward the southeastern portion of the state where the greatest amount of land is released, whereas the remainder of the state will lose visitation. This implies that beneficial economic impacts in the form of increased income and employment are likely to be concentrated in the southeast. Unless total visitation increases, the remainder of the state will lose OHV users.