Environmental Management

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 510–519 | Cite as

Economic Value of Instream Flow for Non-Commercial Whitewater Boating Using Recreation Demand and Contingent Valuation Methods

  • John LoomisEmail author
  • James McTernan


Whitewater river kayaking and river rafting require adequate instream flows that are often adversely affected by upstream water diversions. However, there are very few studies in the USA of the economic value of instream flow to inform environmental managers. This study estimates the economic value of instream flow to non-commercial kayakers derived using a Travel Cost Method recreation demand model and Contingent Valuation Method (CVM), a type of Contingent Behavior Method (CBM). Data were obtained from a visitor survey administered along the Poudre River in Colorado. In the dichotomous choice CVM willingness to pay (WTP) question, visitors were asked if they would still visit the river if the cost of their trip was $Y higher, and the level of $Y was varied across the sample. The CVM yielded an estimate of WTP that was sensitive to flows ranging from $55 per person per day at 300 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) to a maximum $97 per person per day at flows of 1900 CFS. The recreation demand model estimated a boater’s number of trips per season. We found the number of trips taken was also sensitive to flow, ranging from as little as 1.63 trips at 300 CFS to a maximum number of 14 trips over the season at 1900 CFS. Thus, there is consistency between peak benefits per trip and number of trips, respectively. With an average of about 100 non-commercial boaters per day, the maximum marginal values per acre foot averages about $220. This value exceeds irrigation water values in this area of Colorado.


Boating Contingent behavior Contingent valuation Instream flow Recreation Travel cost method Whitewater Willingness to pay 



This study was funded in part by the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, Regional Research Project W3133, and a grant from Save the Poudre, Fort Collins, Colorado.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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