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Jean Daniels, USDA Forest Service, jdaniels@fs.fed.us (Presenter)
Weston Brinkley, Forterra, wbrinkley@forterra.org
Alicia Robbins, University of Washington, astr@uw.edu
Kathleen Wolf, , kwolf@uw.edu
John Chase, USFS PNW Research Station, jchase@fs.fed.us

 

Communities and agencies are increasingly challenged to find more cost-effective strategies for natural resource conservation and management. Many organizations enlist volunteers to care for the land and particular resource systems such as forests, waterways, and shorelines. Volunteer programs incur costs, such as staffing and project materials. Environmental stewardship volunteers contribute valuable time and expertise, as well as consumable and non-consumable goods to planned maintenance and restoration events. Little is known about the value of citizen stewards’ contributions or the contributions of host organizations. Studying the economic aspects of civic environmental stewardship can contribute to a better understanding of the impacts and implications of volunteer programs. We developed a cost-based approach to account for the economics of stewardship activities per field event (rather than a per person basis). Measures included expenditures of sponsoring or host organizations, volunteer travel costs to and from events, contributed consumable and durable goods, and labor value. Results show that contributions made by volunteers and hosts are significant. Using a survey administered to volunteers and host organizations at restoration events in King County, WA we estimate the valuation of 17 sampled events to be approximately $59,000. Extrapolating to all stewardship volunteer events in King County Parks during the Spring 2011 field season, contributed values may be as high as $121,000.