An empirical analysis of hunting leases by timber firms
Private hunting lease agreements offer an example of the private provision (land access) of a public resource (wildlife). Privately owned forests play an important role in wildlife conservation because of land ownership and recreation trends in the United States. The implicit values in hunting lease markets are important to understanding market incentives of wildlife access leasing. The purpose of this thesis is to identify the underlying marginal values of annual hunting leases agreements. In this thesis, the hedonic valuation technique is used to empirically estimate two forms of consumer response: competitive bidding results in the Georgia hunting lease market and consumer response to take-it-or-leave-it prices in a Northern hunting lease market. The Georgia lease regressions use forest stand and regional attributes to predict observed lease prices. The Northern lease regressions use the firm's lease offering price and additional lease information to predict observed consumer response to lease offering prices. The consumer responses for the Northern regressions include lease applications per new hunting lease offering and renewal of pre-existing hunting lease agreements.The Georgia lease price regression results suggest statistically significant price determinants include the percentage of non-plantation acreage, distance from populations greater than 100,000 people, total county acres of public hunting access substitutes, and average forest property taxes paid per county. The Northern regression results indicate that the lease offering price, lease acres, distance from populations greater than 100,000 people, number of hunters per county, and predicted game crime prosecutions are statistically significant to predicting the number of lease applications received for each lease offering. The empirical results from the Northern lease renewal regression results suggest additional information not included in the firm's pricing methodology are jointly statistically significant to predicting lease renewals. The implicit values underlying hunting lease agreements are important for forest management, public hunting access, and lease pricing considerations; the results of this thesis identify lease and regional attributes that affect lease pricing.