“Rural counties in the West with more federal lands performed better on average than their peers with less federal lands in four key economic measures.”
“This update of research from last year finds that from the early 1970s to the early 2010s, population, employment, and personal income on average all grew significantly faster—two times faster or more—in western rural counties with the highest share of federal lands compared to counties with the lowest share of federal lands. Per capita income growth was slightly higher in counties with more federal land.”
An article on “transitional communities” adds:
“Rural decline is a large and complex issue that appears to be accelerating. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, during the period between 1994–2010, 38.4 percent of U.S. rural counties lost population; since 2010, over two-thirds of rural counties lost population. This level of decline has far-reaching national and international implications for food and energy production, tourism, and national culture and identity.”
Putting them together, it looks like public lands can be an important asset for minimizing or avoiding rural decline, if communities can get their act together to embrace this potential and plan for it.
“Particularly in declining communities where long-established residents remember the charm of life in simpler times, residents can have considerable resistance to change. This connection and preservation of the past, while a rural virtue, can impede its adaptation into the future. Resistance to any proposed solution that “hasn’t been done before” simply impedes innovation or positive transition.”