Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Bowman Cutter

Reader 2

Char Miller

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Rights Information

© 2012 Robert Hull


Environmental economics is the application of economic principles to the study of how natural resources are developed and managed. The methodologies used attempt to value ecosystem services provided by healthy, functioning natural lands and ecosystems. Ecosystem services attributed to natural lands contribute significant human welfare benefits that go largely undervalued or misrepresented in the decision-making process for the development of land. As environmental valuation methodologies and techniques continue to advance, policy decisions will be better able to create outcomes that maximize benefits for targeted populations and landscapes. The purpose of this paper is to first describe the methodologies used in environmental economics. These methodologies will then be applied to the Big Cottonwood Canyon Watershed located to the east of Salt Lake City, Utah. The case study will describe the ecosystem services provided by the watershed and value them. Using these values, the study focuses on the proposed development of SkiLink, a gondola system that would connect two separate ski resorts in two separate canyons – the Solitude Mountain Resort, located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Canyons Resort, located near Park City, Utah. The debate over the proposed SkiLink focuses on weighing its potential contribution to Utah’s economy against its potential environmental consequences. Based on a detailed analysis of the economic benefits and ecosystem losses created by the proposal, a cost-benefit analysis of the project will be presented along with recommendations for further study of potential development that would likely accompany the building of SkiLink.


Senior thesis completed December 2012.