MSU continues study of fee-based wildlife recreation attitudes


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Posted: 5/23/2003


Following up on an earlier two-year research effort, a new Mississippi State study is examining landowner attitudes and perceptions of fee-based wildlife recreation on private lands.

Hunting and fishing on non-industrial, private lands are among outdoor activities for which enthusiasts often will pay a fee. In a 1996-98 Forest and Wildlife Research Center preliminary survey, MSU researchers found that about 14 percent of state landowners provided fee hunting activities on their forest and agriculture holdings.

"In fact, landowners who participate in fee-based hunting businesses reported gross incomes of $3-$6 per acre annually," said forestry professor Ian Munn, the project's chief investigator.

"After completing the initial survey, we discovered a need to explore attitudes and perceived problems associated with fee-based wildlife recreation that were expressed by landowners currently not involved in the activity," he added.

Munn said wildlife recreation on private lands can benefit many. In addition to hunters and fishermen, private landowners can derive additional income from persons interested in wildlife observation, nature tours, camping, and hiking, he added.

The earlier study indicated a need, however, to enhance landowners' understanding of federal and state assistance programs, methods for integrating fee-based wildlife recreation with other land uses, and various approaches and benefits of diversifying land management practices.

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the federal Sustainable Natural Resource-Based Alternative Enterprises initiative, the current three-year study will determine landowner understandings of the "how tos" of fee-access operations. These include:

  • Developing business plans and an appreciation for landowner liability issues,
  • Measuring the willingness to form land cooperatives among adjacent landowners,
  • Building interest levels in proper fish and wildlife management procedures, and
  • Explaining ways fee-based recreations can integrate with agriculture and other land uses.

Munn said the project also will seek to identify:

  • The number and diversity of existing wildlife- and fisheries-based economic enterprises operated by landowners in Mississippi, and
  • Landowner perceptions of the existing barriers and constraints that exist to the expansion of wildlife and fisheries-based economic enterprises.

"Information we gain from this study will help us develop an educational outreach program, including workshops, distance learning courses, as well as a Web site for Mississippi's non-industrial private landowners," Munn said.