Lake restrictions make lakeshore property more valuable

SEATTLE - People are willing to pay more to live on a lake that's protected from degradation, often related to lakeshore development.

These findings are part of a report from an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which investigates the ways human beings create and respond to environmental change.

This rise in property value is just one of the preliminary findings presented today, Feb. 14, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Taken together, the initial results point to the importance of understanding the reciprocal interaction between ecological and human systems - something the Wisconsin scientists argue is key to developing effective management strategies.

One of the emerging environmental issues in Wisconsin is the development of the state's Northwoods region (also known as the Northern Highland Lake District) that's speckled with thousands of freshwater lakes. A decade ago, before the area's population grew by 15 percent, anglers on nearly any of the region's lakes could dip their lines into the water and quickly catch fish. But, as more residents have moved into the area, fish abundance has declined, threatening many qualities of the lakes that attract people to the area.

Development tends to have a homogenizing effect across an area, giving lakes similar water qualities and similar fish and plant communities, says Stephen Carpenter, a UW-Madison limnology professor and one of the project's leaders.

But, as he and his colleagues note, identifying exactly how humans alter these lakes is only one part of the equation. To understand how lakes change over time and to develop effective management strategies to mitigate predicted changes, researchers must determine how people - particularly fishermen and lakeside residents - may respond to changes in these freshwater ecosystems.

"When most people think about the dynamics of ecolo

Contact: Bill Provencher
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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