Economic Value of Recreational Fishing on Walter F. George Reservoir (aka Lake Eufaula), Alabama and Georgia
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
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Recreational angling can be a major source of revenue for the local communities and States surrounding large reservoirs. This study estimated the angling effort and annual value of recreational angling at Walter F. George Reservoir (aka Lake Eufaula) reservoir, located between Alabama and Georgia. Creel, follow-up telephone surveys and aerial flights were used to calculate catch per unit effort and total effort fish species targeted by anglers (bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish, hybrid striped bass and ‘anything’). Information on angler expenditures that occurred from January 1st to December 31st, 2017 were collected according to the where they occurred and in detail for reservoir contiguous counties in Alabama and Georgia, for non-contiguous AL-GA counties, and for other states. Expenditures were categorized according to general sales, fuel and lodging categories and local and state tax rates were used to calculated tax revenues from angler expenditures. In addition, travel cost models estimated angler demand, consumer surplus and total willingness-to-pay (WTP) for this reservoir. Total angling effort was estimated at 499,794 hours (SE, 49,235 h) or 74,234 annual trips. Alabama and Georgia residents contributed most of the angling effort (56% and 36%, respectively). Anglers targeting bass represented 52% of the total effort followed by ‘anything’ anglers (20%), crappie anglers (14%), sunfish anglers (8%), catfish anglers (5%), and hybrid striped bass anglers (1%). Direct expenditures were estimated to be $14.6 million and taxes collected on these expenditures were $1.2 million. Of the total expenditures spent within State borders, 86% was spent within Alabama ($12.6 million), 11% was spent within Georgia ($1.6 million) and the remaining 3% was spent within other states ($0.4 million). However, of this total expenditure, Alabama residents spent $6.4 million of the total (44%), Georgia residents spent $5.0 million of the total (34%) and Other States’ residents spent $3.2 million of the total (22%). Consumer surplus (CS) was estimated to be $435 per angler visit or $189 per angler day and the aggregated annual recreational angling CS was $14.0 million; and adding total expenditures ($14.6 million) to the annual consumer surplus provided an aggregate total WTP of $28.6 million. A count model using a negative binomial distribution was used to estimate demand for all anglers. Results showed that an increase in travel cost to the site and household income decreased the number of visits an angler would make to fish at Lake Eufaula, while an increase in age and tournament fishing increased visitation to the reservoir. In additional to all anglers, demand models were estimated for anglers targeting bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish hybrid striped bass, ‘anything’, local, non-local anglers and tournament bass anglers. In all models, travel cost was significant and had a negative coefficient, as theory would predict. The significance of gender and age variables varied by demand model and ethnicity was only significant in the sunfish demand model. Years of experience was a significant variable in the demand models for anglers targeting bass, catfish, ‘anything’ and for non-local anglers. In conclusion, results from this study provided fishery angler effort, targeted species angler information and economic impact of angling at Lake Eufaula on local cities, counties, Alabama, Georgia and other States. These results should be considered when fishery and city management plans are being developed for this reservoir.