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In the news:

According to "Protected Lands and Economics: A Summary of Research and Careful Analysis on the Economic Impact of Protected Federal Lands," a report published by Headwaters Economic this summer, western counties that have permanent protections on federal lands—such as National Parks, Monuments, or Wilderness Areas—show higher than average rates of job growth and have higher levels of per capita income. "Protected federal public lands in the West, including lands in non-metro counties, can be an important economic asset that extends beyond tourism and recreation to attract people and businesses," the report states.

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In the news:

In addition to outdoor recreation, Headwaters Economics group has found that protected federal public lands support faster rates of job growth and higher income levels related to the knowledge-based economy.

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Newsletter: July 2014

Research Update UPDATED: The Economic Importance of National Monuments to Local Communities This interactive and research, updated through 2012, assesses four key economic trends for communities adjacent to 17 western national monuments. Commercial Activities on National Forests Two interactive maps, updated through FY 2013, show all commercial activities and timber cut and sold reports for […]

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As a result, local officials have little incentive to stop a high-risk development when they stand to reap the property tax rewards without bearing the full risks. “The consequences of those development decisions aren’t being felt by the people who are making them,” says Rasker…

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In the news:

Protecting forest-edge homes from wildfires will become intolerably expensive unless western communities change the way they approve development, a Montana research group says. Taxpayers subsidize irresponsible building when federal money is used to fight wildland fires, Headwaters Economics says in series of studies. Unless changes are made in the way homes are approved, sited, financed, insured and protected, the $3 billion national firefighting budget will erupt into an unsustainable burden, the group says…

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In the news:

...That economist, Ray Rasker with Headwaters Economics, suggested that making local governments responsible for some of these firefighting costs might motivate local leaders to practice smarter land-use planning by denying development plans that scatter homes around the fringes of heavily forested areas. Local government participation in wildfire suppression costs is an idea that could gain political traction, and county commissioners had better brace for it. Rural fire departments – funded by taxpayers – suppress all other structural fires. Why shouldn’t they participate in the cost of defending homes in the so-called WUI, wildlands urban interface, when wildfire strikes?…

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In the news:

The West's upcoming wildfire season holds the high risk of again being long, expensive and dangerous, with an acceleration of alarming trends that include more and bigger fires, and increased dangers and costs associated with the need to defend private homes. Unfortunately, what we have tried so far is not adequate to prepare for these developments... Now is the time to add a third idea that would improve local land use planning and bring a level of cost accountability to the local governments that permit new homes and subdivisions. Today, national taxpayers fund much of the cost to suppress wildfires, and local governments do not face a financial risk when permitting homes on dangerous, fire-prone lands…

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In the news:

While the fires that broke out last week San Diego County are now almost fully contained, California is bracing for what could be the worst fire season ever. Economist Ray Rasker, Executive Director of Headwaters Economics, joins Take Two to talk about what people can do to adjust to the increasing risk of wildfires… http://media.scpr.org/audio/upload/2014/05/20/20140520_drought-6c9aac81.mp3

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In the news:

…The interfaces are high-fire-risk regions where homes, subdivisions and communities butt up against chaparral, conifers and other flammable vegetation. Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, an independent research group in Bozeman, Mont., said the federal government can't tell developers where to build — that's up to local governments — but is obligated to spend whatever it takes to fight wildfires and protect property. "It is a classic case of a moral hazard, where you have created a risky situation and the risks and the consequences of the behavior are borne by somebody else," he said.…

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In the news:

…Researchers say a potent combination of climate change and homebuilding near wildfire-prone areas is already translating into bigger, longer, more dangerous fires, and none of those trends are showing signs of letting up. "Fire is a big issue," said Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, a nonpartisan research group focused on land management. "When you live in the West, you live with fire."…