Understanding Diverse-Stakeholder Preferences for Ecosystem Services in Southern California Montane Forests: Informing Forest Management Practices via Inclusion

Understanding forest management preferences from a diverse set of stakeholders is critical for public land managers, particularly in landscapes undergoing disturbances such as fire, invasives species, climate change, urbanization and increasing visitor use. The aim of this research is to inform forest management by co-developing an "intuitive" survey instrument suited for a diverse set of stakeholders, including marginalized communities (e.g., those who typically do not participate in public input mechanisms of the US Forest Service), frequent participants, as well
as environmental groups. This survey elicited preferences for several specific ecosystem services (e.g., recreational benefits from rivers and lakes), non-ecosystem services (e.g., amenities such as public restrooms and grills), along with silvicultural forest management practices (e.g., forest thinning). Data for this thesis was collected from participants who reside near the San Bernardino National Forest in California, using a best-worst choice survey method – a hybrid approach that enable estimation of- both preferences (e.g., willingness-to-pay [WTP]) and importance rankings (e.g., Dawes et al., 2018). Results indicate that mechanical thinning (i.e., cutting down/removing unwanted trees with mechanical equipment) is ranked more important than prescribed/controlled fires, while overall, paying an additional price of $1 ranked as lowest. Public restrooms ranked highest in terms of amenities. The above were not statistically significant when assessing preferences – except for paying an additional price for parking.


Jesus Felix de los Reyes

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