Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



Landowners in the Lower Mississippi Valley or Delta may be willing to consider alternative land uses for some acreage, particularly for marginal agricultural lands. Recreational hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching opportunities on private land for public use may be a possible way to provide income to landowners and restore marginal lands as a contributor to the local economy. Previous studies have identified that landowners often chose not to engage in recreational leasing due to liability concerns. Thus, an institutional change that reduces liability risk to landowners may increase the amount of private land available for public recreation and reduce transaction costs associated with liability mitigation. These possibilities were examined using primary data obtained from a mailed questionnaire sent to agricultural landowners in the Delta region of Arkansas and Louisiana. About 14% of landowners indicated that they would be willing to allow fee-based recreation under the current institutional environment. If the Arkansas and Louisiana recreational use statutes were amended giving greater liability protection to landowners, the number of landowners that would be willing to allow fee-based recreation on their lands would increase to over 20% in Arkansas and nearly 24% of owners in Louisiana. Clearly, an institutional change that reduces the liability risk to landowners can increase the potential amount of private land that could be used for fee-based recreation, again particularly so for Louisiana. Over 40% of landowners have land that is marginal for agricultural purposes with the average ownership of marginal land being slightly more than 100 acres. Owners of marginal land were particularly responsive to an institutional change providing greater liability protection. Risk averse landowners were more unlikely and risk seeking landowners were more likely to allow fee-based recreation under the current institutional environment. Following an institutional change it was observed that risk preference was no longer a significant predictor of the willingness to allow fee-based recreation indicating that the element of risk was diminished. Transaction costs associated with liability are evident and amending the recreational use statute appears to produce a reduction in expected WTA reflecting a transaction cost savings to landowners.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael A. Dunn