Public Values of Aquatic Invasive Species Management

The overall goal of this project is to quantify and analyze the ecological and economic value of AIS damages and AIS management as they relate to ecosystem services (e.g., fishing, swimming, biodiversity, navigability).

This project will provide both natural resource managers and water quality regulators with information that will help to prioritize AIS and water quality management projects, permitting them to make more effective use of limited conservation dollars. This project will quantify the dollar value of the public benefits of AIS management, as well as the costs of managing a specific AIS (i.e., common carp) for water quality outcomes.


Researchers have developed focus group materials including focus group questions and script, as well as a stakeholder list to recruit participants. The team faced challenges in recruiting participants for focus group. To address this, we have reached out to the Minnesota Tourism Center and Explore Minnesota Tourism. Both the organizations have agreed to connect us with businesses in the study areas. We have developed a draft survey that will be administered with lodging owners/operators across Minnesota and obtained a list of businesses for survey administration (activity 3). We have also begun work in drafting a survey that will be administered with tourists in three study areas: Brainerd lakes area, Alexandria lakes area, and Ely.

Due to uncertainties with COVID, the team has changed the sequence and timeline of activities. The delay onsite survey administration from summer 2021 to summer 2022 since onsite surveys require face-to-face contact with participants. To make progress on project objectives, the team will be conducting focus groups from September to December 2021, as initially planned. The team will administer surveys with lodging owners/operators from March to June 2022, earlier than initially planned. This will give researchers the time needed to plan and administer onsite survey between June and September 2022. 

Phase II

The survey respondents in the Phase I study were primarily boaters and anglers, thus focusing on specific types of recreationists. In Phase II, researchers will build on this work by examining the social and economic value of AIS management among another key stakeholder group: Minnesota tourists and tourism-related businesses. The overall goal of this project is to quantify and analyze the socio-economic impact of AIS on Minnesota tourists and tourism related business owners. Achieving this goal will provide a fuller picture of the impacts of AIS in Minnesota—a state with substantial nature based tourism.


  1. To assess tourists’ a) behavior, values, and perceptions as they relate to AIS, b) their willingness to pay for AIS management in Minnesota, and c) future behavior as a response to AIS infestation levels.
  2. To investigate lodging owner/operators’ perspectives on and concerns of AIS, AIS management, and support for policy.
  3. To compare tourist related data with outcomes from the investigators’ previous projects investigating recreationists’, lakeshore owners’, and general residents’ AIS values, AIS perceptions, and willingness to pay for AIS management.

Phase I

The overall goal of this project is to quantify and analyze the ecological and economic value of AIS damages and AIS management as they relate to ecosystem services such as fishing, swimming, biodiversity, and navigability. Researchers will employ a multi-pronged approach, including:

  • Estimating public benefits of AIS management
  • Analyzing costs of carp management and effectiveness of carp management as a strategy for water clarity restoration
  • Developing a broad AIS analysis framework, which we will use to estimate efficient carp management

Specific outcomes of the study include a comprehensive AIS valuation data compilation for use by other researchers, and an eco-economic programming model to predict the economic and ecological repercussions of using AIS prevention and control initiatives.

This project is important because even if the direct costs of AIS management are known, a lack of information about the potential benefits of AIS management makes informed decision-making difficult. With an accurate assessment of the costs and benefits of AIS management strategies, as well as information on public perception, resource managers will be better prepared to efficiently and effectively invest management resources.


Project manager: Amit Pradhananga

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Project start date: 2018

Estimated project end date: Dec. 2022