Recreational Use of Six Prairie Wetlands in Eastern South Dakota
A recreational use survey was conducted at 6 public wetlands in eastern South Dakota from August 9, 1981 through August 8, 1982. Four hundred and fifty-eight postcard questionnaires were placed on vehicles encountered at these marshes during random time periods. Two hundred and thirty-five were voluntarily returned for a response rate of 51.3%. Approximately 10,020 people made 4,778 trips to these wetlands and spent 63,093 man-hours. Thirty-one different activities were observed or reported. Hunting accounted for 96.0% of all fall trips and 89.1% of yearly visits. Over 89% of all visits occurred during fall and over 50% of the trips were multiple use. Duck hunting occurred during 83.8% of all fall trips; goose hunting, 4"9. 5%; and pheasant hunting, 23.0%. Users came from 25 South Dakota counties and several other states. Seventy-two percent of all users lived within an hour drive of the marshes. The average user of the study sites made 19.4 trips for consumptive activities and 4.1 trips for nonconsumptive activities per year to South Dakota public marshes. Marsh usage during the opening week of waterfowl season was significantly greater (F = 3. 81, P = 0. 002) than all other weekly totals. Opening weeks for pheasant and trapping seasons also showed peak usage, although trapping accounted for just 2.7% of all fall trips. It appeared that high goose concentrations also contributed to greater
usage by hunters. weekdays. Both holidays and weekends received more use than Fifty-five percent of the total use was in the morning. Most duck hunters used the sunrise to 0900 period and goose hunters the 0900 to noon period. There was no significant difference (F = 0. 28, P =0.885) among time periods used by pheasant hunters. The net present value of these wetland study sites is $653 per hectare for hunting alone when infinitely discounted into the future using the social discount rate of 7.875%. Total hunting expenditures for all study sites combined were $123,279 for the 1981 hunting season. In addition, wetlands provide other recreational benefits that cannot be recorded through on-site studies.