• urbanization;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • land use;
  • contingent valuation;
  • riparian ecology;
  • buffer zones;
  • hedonic price

Abstract: This study evaluates the economic value of riparian buffers and open space in a suburban watershed through two nonmarket valuation methods. A contingent valuation survey was implemented in the Dardenne Creek watershed, a suburban watershed of the St. Louis metropolitan area in Missouri, to evaluate the residents' perceptions of and willingness to pay (WTP) for adopting riparian buffers and preserving farmland in a hypothetical real estate market. A hedonic pricing model based on actual sale prices of homes in the watershed was applied to estimate the market value of open space and other environmental conditions such as flood zone and stream proximity in the study area. The results showed that residents' WTP was consistent with the economic values of open space and proximity to streams embedded in existing home prices. Through a better understanding of residents' perceptions and values, riparian buffer and open space programs can be designed and promoted to achieve greater implementation success and environmental benefit.