Recreational demand for clean water: evidence from geotagged photographs by visitors to lakes

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Keeler, Bonnie
Wood, Spencer
Polasky, Stephen
Filstrup, Christopher
Downing, John
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Kling, Catherine
Distinguished Professor Emerita
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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More than 41 000 water bodies are listed as impaired by the US Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. Implementation and enforcement of regulations designed to address these impairments can be costly, raising questions about the value of the public benefits derived from improved surface water quality. Here, we assess the recreational value of changes in water quality using freely available geotagged photographs, taken by members of the public, as a proxy for recreational visits to lakes. We found that improved water clarity is associated with increased numbers of visits to lakes and that lake users were willing to incur greater costs to visit clearer lakes. Lake users were willing to travel 56 minutes farther (equivalent to US$22 in travel costs) for every one-meter increase in water clarity in Minnesota and Iowa lakes, when controlling for other lake attributes. Our approach demonstrates the potential for social-media data to inform social–ecological research, including assessment of the recreational benefits of improvements in water quality.


This is an article from Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2015, 12(2); 76-81. DOI: 10.1890/140124. Posted with permission.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2015