This study uses a choice experiment to identify user values of potential structural improvements in a university arboretum. The survey was distributed to arboretum visitors (N=300) during Arbor Day weekend 2014. The six Choice Experiment attributes were the potential installation of a Pollinator Garden, Covered Picnic Tables, Vending Machines, and more controversially, a Perimeter Fence, a commuter Bike Path, with a monthly parking pass as the payment vehicle. These attributes were chosen to guide policy decisions for potential revenue generation (e.g. vending machines and parking) and to attract new visitors without alienating current users. It was important to choose attributes that were within the control of the arboretum. To date, we know of only one published study in the United States considering arboretum value by Downing and Roberts (1991), which used the Travel Cost Method to consider holistic values of another university’s arboretum. Results show the greatest positive WTP for the pollinator garden at $3.65 per user per month. While the bike path and perimeter fence are controversial issues in the surrounding neighborhoods, our results show a high WTP in favor of a bike path and a high WTP to avoid installing a perimeter fence. Surprisingly, respondents were also strongly against vending machines. These results provide evidence for the Arboretum leadership to make informed funding and infrastructure decisions most harmonious with public values.


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