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GLIN==> Protecting Lake Michigan Has Major Economic Benefits



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For Immediate Release:			July 10, 2001

For More Information: 
Joel Brammeier, Lake Michigan Federation,
(312) 939-0838 ext. 4

Public Values Lake Michigan 
Natural Resources At 
$3 to $5 Billion

Chicago - The general public values healthy birds and fish along the
southern coast of Lake Michigan at between $3 and $5 billion, according to
the first study to evaluate the monetary value of the Lake to the people who
live near it.  The study was released today by the Lake Michigan Federation
and the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

"A clean, healthy Lake Michigan is key to the quality of life in this region
and strongly influences Chicagoan's decisions about where to live and where
to locate a business," said Cameron Davis, executive director of Lake
Michigan Federation.  "This study supports the notion that a healthy lake
with thriving biodiversity is a major part of what keeps this region
economically healthy and vital."

The Natural Capital of the Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Zone: First Steps
Toward Economic Valuations calculated how much each household in Northeast
Illinois and Northwest Indiana would be willing to pay each year - through
taxes, volunteer programs, or annual donations to a conservation group - to
maintain or preserve 13 species of birds and six species of fish. 

Some examples of the values found for various species in the study are:

Bald Eagle		$17.70		Lake Sturgeon		  $6.35
Blue-Winged Teal	$11.80		Rainbow Trout	  $4.23

The study estimates a total willingness to pay, per household, for these
fish and birds at approximately between $117 and $197 per year.  These
figures translate to a total valuation of between $3.19 and $5.37 billion
for the southern Lake Michigan area.  

"The study does not put a price tag on Lake Michigan, because it is
priceless," said Joel Brammeier, Lake Michigan Federation staff scientist.
"But the study does demonstrate that citizens place a high value on the lake
and would be willing to pay a significant amount to keep the birds and fish
healthy and a part of their lives."



The results of this study are based on previous studies that have used the
contingent valuation method (CVM).  The CVM technique surveys people to find
out what they are willing to pay to maintain or preserve an environmental
resource.  The average value individuals are willing to pay for each
resource is then calculated and multiplied by the number of households in
the designated area.  The CVM method is a valid technique, as it was also
used to determine the value of natural resources harmed in the Exxon-Valdez
oil spill.

Because a CVM study has not been conducted to measure the willingness to pay
to maintain existing wildlife in southern Lake Michigan, researchers of the
University of Illinois at Chicago revised similar CVM studies that have
placed willingness to pay values on different birds and fish in other
regions.  

The researchers then found approximate values for birds and fish in Lake
Michigan and discounted them based on the assumption that only 50 percent of
Chicago-area households would be willing to pay the full amount.  The values
assigned to each species were also discounted as more fish and birds were
added to the total - that is, endangered species were given full
willingness-to-pay values and each additional species was discounted by 15
percent.

"The researchers of this study took many safeguards to avoid overestimating
the values of the birds and fish," said Brammeier.  "It's important for
people to know that the final estimate of $3 to $5 billion is conservative,
and it is believed that the total value the general public places on Lake
Michigan is much higher."    

Formed in 1970, the Lake Michigan Federation is the oldest citizens'
membership-based organization in North America.  Its mission is to restore
fish and wildlife habitat, conserve land and water, and eliminate toxic
pollution in the watershed of the largest lake within the United States.
This is achieved through education, research, law, science, economics and
strategic partnerships.

For more information on the Lake Michigan Federation, visit their website at
www.lakemichigan.org <http://www.lakemichigan.org>.  

-30-

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