Headwaters Economics – a non-profit economic research group based in Bozeman, Montana that specializes in community and economic development – has created an interactive map to show the amount of per capita income explained by protected federal lands for each county in the non-metropolitan western U.S.
For example, in Gallatin County, Montana $2,655 of the per capita income (7% of total PCI) can be explained by the presence of protected public lands. Or, in Gunnison County, Colorado, $5,203 of the per capita income (15% of total PCI) can be explained by the presence of protected public lands. Meanwhile, in Teton County, Wyoming $23,897 of the per capita income (24% of total PCI) can be explained by the presence of protected public lands.
The new interactive map and explanation take into account each county’s characteristics and shows an estimated amount of per capita income that can explained by protected federal lands for each non-metropolitan county.
This new county-specific analysis builds on earlier work (West Is Best) by Headwaters Economics that looked at the U.S. West’s 286 non-metro counties as a region, and found a meaningful relationship between the amount of protected public land and higher per capita income levels in 2010. According to this analysis, the effect protected public lands have on per capita income can be most easily described in this way: on average, western non-metro counties have a per capita income that is $436 higher for every 10,000 acres of protected public lands within their boundaries.