Across the country many people engage in recreational boating. In 2008 there were over 12 million registered recreational boats in the United States, and nearly 8% of these were in Florida (US Coast Guard, 2008). Launching boats from publically available ramps is one of the primary methods of marine access. Within Florida, nearly 25% of all boating related trips in 2007 involved launching a trailered boat from a publically available ramp (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation [FWC], 2009). With hundreds of thousands of boating trips from dozens of publically accessible ramps, Lee County planners need analytical tools to understand demand and consumer surplus to assist them in evaluating new and enhanced launch facilities. To accomplish this, we developed recreational demand models based on the random utility model (RUM) approach to travel cost modeling in the presence of multiple possible substitute sites. The model was specified as a nested-logit RUM where boaters choose a combination of ramp and on-the-water destination with a nest for ramps and a nest for the water sites available from each ramp. The RUM applies to boaters that trailer boats to ramps that are publicly accessible. Lee County has 35 such ramps -- most are publicly owned but some are private with fee-based public access. The demand model provides a tool for evaluating investments in boating infrastructure. The tool was applied to assess the benefits of potential policy scenarios facing Lee County planners. The three scenarios were: adding an additional access point, improving some access points by enlarging the parking lots, and removing an access point. Benefits were aggregated by combining per-choice occasion benefits with total trips to Lee County. The aggregated present values of social benefits ranged from $4 to $17 million dollars. Thus, the boating demand model serves as a tool to improve the efficiency of investments in the maintenance and supply of boating infrastructure.


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