This paper uses a referendum-style survey approach known as dichotomous-choice contingent valuation to estimate the benefits of restricting the uses of 6.9 million acres of desert land. Statistical techniques estimate the value to California residents of creating three new national parks and 76 new wilderness areas in the high and low deserts of eastern California. The total amount that California residents would be willing to pay to enact desert protection legislation ranges from $177 million to $448 million per year. This estimate hinges on the assumptions that (i) the residents who did not complete and return the survey questionnaire ("nonrespondents") would receive no benefits from desert protection and (ii) the estimate of willingness to pay for the "respondents" is unbiased. Copyright 1995 Western Economic Association International.
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