Friday, January 30, 2004

This View Worth $495

People traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville were recently asked to fill out a voluntary survey and actually attach a dollar value to what they were seeing. The average value was in a reasonably modest range, from $468 to $519. (In other words, there's no gushing here about "million-dollar views."

But so what? The same people also said they would stop visiting the parkway if development continued to infringe on those views and/or if pollution continued to obscure them. Thus establishing for the first time a kind of economics of land-use planning and a value baseline for environmental protection.

From the Charlotte Observer story: "The drive from the Virginia border to Asheville includes the famous Linn Cove Viaduct and spectacular overlooks such as Craggy Gardens, Bow Valley and Tanbark Ridge.

"Multiplied by the number of visitors to that stretch of parkway each year, the survey places the total value of parkway visits at more than $5 billion annually, authors said."

"According to the study, visitors in North Carolina spent an average of about $170 per day during their parkway visit for a direct annual economic impact of $2.3 billion."

Not that any of the powers busily overselling the development and protecting the pollution will be particularly moved to do better by those figures.

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