Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Grala, Robert K.

Committee Member

Gordon, Jason S.

Committee Member

Munn, Ian A.

Committee Member

Petrolia, Daniel R.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Forest Resources


Department of Forestry


Open space provides a wide range of ecosystem services to communities. In growing communities, open space offers relief from congestion and other negative externalities associated with rapid development. To make effective policy and planning decisions pertaining to open space preservation, it is important to estimate monetary values of its benefits. In addition, assessing public opinions regarding open space provides information on demand and how residents value open space. This study estimated the monetary value of open space in Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast communities. The study also collected information on coastal residents’ attitudes towards open space, working waterfronts, and their willingness to support waterfront open space preservation monetarily. Two methodological approaches were employed to estimate the monetary value of waterfront open space: contingent valuation (CVM) and hedonic price (HPM) methods. Data were collected using a mail survey, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and publicly available data sources such as the U.S. Census. Data were analyzed using an interval regression, ordinary least squares, and geographically weighted regression (GWR) models. Mail survey results indicated that the majority of residents valued open space and were willing to pay from $80.52 to $162.14 per household as estimated by four different interval-censored econometric models. Respondent’s membership in groups promoting conservation goals, income, age, and residence duration were major factors associated with their willingness to pay. Results from the HPM indicated proximities to waterfronts, with the exception of bayous, were positively related to home prices, suggesting open space produced positive economic benefits. Findings from the HPM analysis using publicly available data were consistent and comparable with the results from the HPM that used MLS data. This similarity of results indicates the use of publicly available data is feasible in HPM analysis, which is important for broad applications of the method during city planning. In addition, GWR estimates provided site specific monetary values of waterfront open space benefits, which will be helpful for policymakers and city planners in developing site-specific conservation and preservation strategies. Findings can help formulate future decisions related to alternative development scenarios of coastal areas and conservation efforts to preserve open space.



coastal||contingent valuation||ecosystem services||geographically weighted regression||interval censored model||hedonic price method