This paper examines wilderness users' response to recently established overnight camping fees at the Desolation Wilderness in California. Fee program evaluations have typically focused on economic or revenue issues, distributional or equity impacts of various pricing strategies, and questions of price fairness. In the case of wilderness recreation fees, it is also important to recognize the complex public purpose of wilderness and the long history of not having access fees in wilderness. To evaluate these various factors, this paper examines the impact of past wilderness experience and residential proximity on response to wilderness use fees using data from the 1997 Desolation Wilderness Fees Study. The results suggest general support for wilderness use fees, but fees are judged to be less appropriate for wilderness than for more developed recreation facilities and services. Structural equation modeling shows that experienced wilderness users, experienced Desolation Wilderness users, and users residing in close proximity to the Desolation Wilderness are less supportive of fees and less likely to see positive benefits from fees. A history of paying fees for access to other recreation sites and perceptions of wilderness problems, though positively related to past wilderness experience, do not contribute to fee support.
- Recreation fees
- Structural equation modeling
- Wilderness experience
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management