Research Matters No. 76: The Mat-Su in 2040—What Would Residents Like to See?
April 25, 2014—Residents of the Mat-Su Borough north of Anchorage say they would be willing to pay substantial amounts for actions that help protect things that drew them to the area in the first place—including salmon streams, local farmland, and opportunities for recreation and hunting. That's the main finding of a recent survey ISER economist Tobias Schwörer conducted of borough residents.
The borough has been the fastest growing area of Alaska for decades, and it's expected to keep growing rapidly in the coming years. That growth is bringing changes, and this survey is a first step toward finding out how much borough residents value specific characteristics of the area—and how much they'd be willing to pay to maintain or restore those characteristics. Residents said they would pay the most to restore declining salmon runs; discourage conversion of farmland for residential and other uses; and protect access to recreation sites and trails.
The survey asked respondents to choose among different hypothetical future land-use and development alternatives, with different costs assigned to each alternative. By their choices, the respondents put dollar values on actions that would help protect non-market resources, like healthy salmon runs and public easements for hiking or snowmachine trails. These dollar amounts are hypothetical—no one was actually asked to pay anything—but they are still important measures of what borough residents value and consider worth paying for.
The survey was done for The Nature Conservancy, with funding from the Bullitt Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.