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Abstract

A nationwide survey was conducted to estimate welfare associated with a proposed large-scale wetland restoration project in coastal Louisiana. Both binary- and multinomial-choice survey instruments were administered via Knowledge Networks, with the latter used to estimate willingness to pay for increments in three ecosystem services: wildlife habitat provision, storm surge protection, and fisheries productivity. Results indicate that confidence in government agencies, political leanings, and “green” lifestyle choices were significant explanatory factors. All three ecosystem services significantly affected project support, with increased fisheries productivity having the largest marginal effect, followed by improved storm surge protection, and increased wildlife habitat. Willingness to pay (WTP), in the form of a one-time tax, is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1,000 per household, with resource users being willing to pay substantially more. A conservative lower-bound estimate of aggregate WTP is $86 trillion, well above a recent $100 billion estimate of restoration cost.

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