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Valuing the impacts of climate change on outdoor recreation for the Sierra Nevada region

Outdoor recreation provides myriad of benefits to individual, communities, and society.. Approximately half of all Americans participate in outdoor recreation at least once a year. In 2016, outdoor recreation contributed 2.2% of the nation’s gross domestic product. For federal lands in the Sierra Nevada region, outdoor recreation involves an average of 90 million visitor days annually. Climate change is projected to amplify damages to forests and impact outdoor recreation activities. We present our study on the social vulnerability to climate change by assessing the effects of climate change on outdoor recreation in the Sierra Nevada region and provide information needed to manage for risk and minimize loss.


Study results suggest that winter-based outdoor recreation seasons will shorten and will lead to a reduced overall participation, while demand for warm-weather access and use is expected to increase.  Using economic analysis, we estimate the value of recreational services losses due to drought in three National Forests in the Sierra Nevada region, California (Inyo National Forest, Tahoe National Forest, and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit). Our findings indicate that recent droughts resulted in an annual reduction of about $73 million, $36 million, and $15 million for Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Tahoe, and Inyo National Forests, respectively. Furthermore, we provide land managers and stakeholder with information that can aid management and planning for socioecological resilience. In particular, we develop adaptation strategies and tactics, with the emphasis on reducing vulnerability, exposure, and uncertainty.


Speaker Bio

Dr. José Sánchez has a BA in Economics from University of California, Irvine and a M.S. in Statistics from Washington State University. He graduated from University of California, Riverside with a PhD in Environmental Sciences focusing on natural resources and environmental economics. Currently, Dr. Sánchez is a Research Economist with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station in Riverside, California. Some of his research interest includes fire risk management, nonmarket valuation of ecosystem services, connecting people to nature, and improving recreation opportunities to underrepresented communities.


The semester’s complete speaker series schedule can be found at: 

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