Any Lake Erie local could tell you that beaches are an important part of the economy for communities near the lake, but exactly how important are they? Dr. Brent Sohngen of The Ohio State University is looking to crunch the numbers with help from Ohio Sea Grant.
Sohngen, a professor of environmental and resource economics in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, was awarded a grant to estimate the total number of visitors to beaches on Lake Erie’s coast and the economic value they bring to the region. He plans to do this through beachgoer counts and surveys asking visitors about their trip. The surveys will include details such as home ZIP code and money spent so that Sohngen can calculate how much economic value these beaches generate – and how much of it comes from outside the local community.
He intends to use that information to estimate the economic hit these regions take when beaches are closed due to poor water quality – such as during the large harmful algal blooms (HABs) of 2011 and 2014.
“This research should help us fill an important hole in our understanding of the value of public access to the Lake Erie coastline, as well as the impacts of HABs and other water quality problems on visitation and the economy,” Sohngen said. He will provide his results to policy makers and the local communities so they can better make informed decisions concerning Lake Erie and its beaches.
The project will begin this June and final results should be ready in early 2020. For more information about the study, contact Sohngen at email@example.com.