Collecting & Using Economic Information to Guide the Management of Coastal Recreational Resources

This is Chad Nelsen's doctoral dissertation that he completed at UCLA in the Environmental Science and Engineering program in March 2012.

Coastal tourism and recreation is the largest sector of California’s ocean and coastal economy and generates large economic impacts and non-market values. Most of the research on non-market values of coastal recreation in California has focused on beach going. There are other niche recreational activities such as surfing, diving, and paddle boarding that have small populations of highly avid coastal users that are difficult to survey. These groups make choices regarding their recreation based on different beach attributes and have distinct behavior patterns and different economic impacts and values associated with their recreational choices. The inability to survey these users limits our understanding of how coastal management decisions affect them and may in result decisions that negatively impact public welfare.

The lack of knowledge about these users has also led to coast management agencies (e.g., California Coastal Commission) to consistently undervalue the impact of decisions on coastal recreation both when making project-specific decisions and when setting mitigation fees.

This dissertation a) uses Internet-based surveys to provide one of the only empirical valuations of surfing, b) develops, tests, and applies an Internet-based survey approach to quantify the values of this niche coastal use, and c) examines the recent history of beach mitigation policy in California to show how coastal recreational and ecosystem values could be better incorporated into the determination of mitigation fees.

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Report Sections:

Acknowledgements and Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Non-market values of coastal recreation in California

Chapter 2: Using and Internet-based survey instrument to capture hard to reach beach uses and develop a travel cost model for surfing at Trestles Beach, California

Chapter 3: Impact of survey mode on the socioeconomic characterization of surfers at Trestles Beach, California

Chapter 4: Mitigating the adverse impacts of shoreline armoring on California Beaches.

Chapter 5: Conclusions


Internet Survey Instruments:

2006 Internet-based survey instrument for Trestles

2007 Internet-based survey instrument for CA surf spots

2008 Intercept survey instrument for Trestles