Financing Outdoor Recreation
The National Park Service and other agencies have argued that our recreation lands face a crisis of deferred maintenance. This paper evaluates two proposals for funding public lands, increasing gate fees and taxing recreational gear. It analyzes the joint welfare effects of such taxes and the services supported by the revenue. It shows that when the taxed goods and the public service are "weak complements," there is a simple sufficient statistic determining whether the joint effect increases welfare both for consumers and sellers: Namely, the demand for the taxed good increases. The paper illustrates these results with data for recreational services.
We thank the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) for generous support of this research. We also thank Nathan Chan, Cathy Kling, Matt Kotchen, and other participants in a 2019 PERC workshop for comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.