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Lake Erie Beaches Worth Millions

NOVEMBER 6, 1998

For more information contact:

Frank R. Lichtkoppler, District Specialist
Ohio Sea Grant

Lake Erie Beaches Worth Millions

Maumee Bay State Park Beach and Headlands State Park Beach on Lake Erie are
estimated to have a public value of $87 million and $50 million
respectively according to
Ohio State University economist Dr. Brent Sohngen.

"That is about $5.5 million per acre for the 15.8 acres of  sandy beach at
Maumee," said Sohngen.  "The public value is $2.3 million per acre for the
21.5 acres of sandy beach at Headlands State Park," he added.

"This research provides a unique look at the value of our Lake Erie
beaches," said Sohngen.  Beach managers can use the information to help
allocate scarce resources to priority needs of beach visitors.   State and
local policy makers may use the data to decide on the addition of needed
recreational amenities.  Coastal Visitor Bureaus can use the survey results
to target tourism marketing efforts. 

In the summer of 1997, the Lake Erie Protection Fund, the Ohio Sea Grant
College Program and the Lucas County and Lake County Visitor Bureaus
sponsored a survey of beach visitors at Maumee Bay and Headlands State
Parks.  Over 1,350 beach visitors were surveyed and 770 patrons responded,
for a combined return rate of over 56%. 

Headlands State Park has a ¾ mile natural beach, nearby state nature
preserve, ample parking and public fishing access.   Maumee Bay State Park
has had considerable funds invested in infrastructure development including,
a lodge, hiking trails, swimming beach, campgrounds, wetlands, golf course
and other amenities.

"Direct expenditures in the local economy for single day trips by beach
visitors could amount to $3.3 million per year at Headlands and $6.8 million
at Maumee Bay" explained Sohngen. 

Beach visitors tended to have higher than the average Ohio income.  They
were most interested in beach cleanliness and maintenance, however, water
quality was also important to them.

The non-market value that people attribute to going the beach for a single
day was $15.50 at Headlands and $25.60 at Maumee. Non-market value is the
value or satisfaction beach visitors derive over the money they spend to
visit the beach.  Value at Maumee was higher because there were few close
substitute beaches near Maumee and the additional recreational attractions
found at Maumee draws visitors from a greater distance than Headlands.  

Combining the market (trip expenditures) and non-market values of the single
day trips and multiplying by the number of actual swimming beach users gives
total annual benefits of $12.3 million at Maumee and $6.8 million at
Headlands.  These estimates are then used to develop the net present
economic value of the beaches to the public and were $87 million for Maumee
and $50 million for Headlands.

This survey research continued over this past summer, when 15 new  Lake Erie
beaches on Ohio’s north shore were surveyed.  This new 1998  survey will
allow the researchers to investigate how quality differences, such as water,
sand and other amenity quality affect visitation patterns and beach value. 

Interested citizens may learn more about Lake Erie beaches at the following
web site: