Conservation Strategy Fund helps local conservationists use economic tools to find smart, efficient solutions to the most urgent environmental problems. Since its creation in 1998, CSF has conducted dozens of analysis projects in forests, rivers and coastal environments. Most of our work has focused in the tropics, where extraordinarily high levels of biological diversity are found. To maximize the reach and quality of our work, we involve leading experts and conservation organizations in all of our projects.

Land, tourism and taxes: An evaluation of tourism income in Sonoma County

With support from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Conservation Strategy Fund is evaluating the benefits of tourism in Sonoma County, California; specifically tourist behavior and tourism-related income in the context of scenic beauty and open space. With 7.5 million tourists per year, Sonoma County's economy thrives due in part to the contribution of tourists who visit for many reasons, including the area's rolling hills and panoramic vistas. 

The study will analyze data on tourism numbers and spending that circulates back into the local economy. We will determine the link between wine-related tourism (world-class wineries in the region draw visitors from around the world) and the county's open space. In Sonoma County, scenic beauty and outdoor recreation combine with the region’s premier wineries to create a unique tourism “product” that is a powerful driver of the regional economy. Investments in land conservation sustain the scenic values on both public and private land throughout the county. 

This analysis will be useful to many organizations involved in Sonoma's tourism and in the fields of agriculture, outdoor recreation and land preservation. We plan to disseminate the results of our study widely. 

This study was commissioned by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and made possible thanks to the District. Thanks also to our project partners and experts including Sonona County Tourism and Tom Birdsall.