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Press Room (243): Media & Newsletters

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In the news:

Congress long ago established a basic principle governing the extraction of coal from public lands by private companies: American taxpayers should be paid fair value for it. They own the coal, after all.... In 2013, approximately 40 percent of all domestic coal came from federal lands. A recent study by the independent nonprofit research group Headwaters Economics estimates that various reforms to the royalty valuation system would have generated $900 million to $5.6 billion more overall between 2008 and 2012..../blockquote>

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Recent studies show what Utahns already instinctively know: travel and tourism in the Beehive State have increased significantly in recent years, creating more jobs and income for local residents. Utah's public lands have played a key role in this economic uptick, and the benefits extend beyond travel and tourism to other important sectors such as health care, finance and engineering.

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Newsletter: March 2015

Research Update County Payments History, Context, and Projections New interactive maps show three views of federal land payments to counties and states: the history of recent payments, as a percent of county budgets, and future payments because SRS is not reauthorized. Federal Coal Royalties: Current Structure, Rates, and Reform Options This report analyzes how revenues […]

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...To make a real impact, Rasker says, we need to start doing something about the areas that have yet to be developed. Drawing on input from rangers, fire marshals, ecologists and government officials from all over the Western U.S., he’s developed a nine-point plan that would reduce the risk of wildfire by controlling the pattern of future development in the WUI. The most basic step: requiring counties to disclose the fire risk potential to homebuyers. That alone, he argues, will have people thinking twice about building in the WUI....

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In the news:

...Mark Haggerty, of Bozeman, Montana-based Headwaters Economics, says all interests need to rethink both PILT and SRS, perhaps combining the compensation funds. One measure would be to distribute money to rural counties in need, rather than by the existing formula, based on counties’ total public land acreage, which doesn’t account for the urban development that generates plenty of revenue. Haggerty and others have also pitched the idea of a natural resources trust to remedy the situation. Under that scenario, managers would bank appropriations over the next 15 to 20 years to build an endowment for rural services and land management. A trust could support restoration projects, wilderness management and logging, when appropriate, while leveraging the resources of regional cooperative programs, such as Idaho’s Clearwater Basin Collaborative... “If we can show that we’re working collaboratively on the ground with the county commissioners, the timber industry and the environmental community, to recognize both local needs and national interests,” Haggerty says, “then we ought to have a payment system that encourages and rewards that kind of management planning.” Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, D, has included the idea in a recent forest-management reform package....

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Newsletter: December 2014

Research Update Migration and Population Trends in the West New research summarizes how county type influences changing migration and population trends. We provide an interactive map, county-level data table, and literature review. Tongass Transition Framework Stalled Our analysis shows the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska remains focused on old growth harvests without improving economic […]

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Newsletter: November 2014

Research Update Reducing Wildfire Risk to Communities How to manage development in the Wildland-Urban Interface Monitoring the Impact of Fracking on Your Community and Economy Case studies and recommendations that offer best practices for measuring socioeconomic impacts caused by energy development Lessons for Wildfire from Federal Flood Programs Lessons from national floodplain management programs that […]

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In the news:

By most measures, Ohio’s taxes on energy production are low. They’re less than 1 percent, compared to 7 percent in Texas, 11 percent in Wyoming, and 25 percent in Alaska. Kasich wants to raise state taxes to 2.75 percent or even higher. Drilling companies threaten to leave and go to low-tax states. But that hasn’t happened historically. A study by Headwaters Economics notes “the academic literature generally disagrees that tax competition is important to oil production.”

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In the news:

The cost trends around wildfire also are troublesome. Since 1990, the number of homes destroyed has tripled. Yet in the last 30 years, 60 percent of new homes in the U.S. were built in the wildland-urban interface, the private land next to public forests. Federal firefighting costs average $3 billion annually; also triple the amount from a decade ago. Our research and others indicates that at least one-third and up to 95 percent of the firefighting bill goes to defend private homes.... What has not yet been tried is altering the pattern of future home development on fire-prone lands. The key is to get the incentives right. Currently, local governments benefit from a federal government subsidy that pays the bulk of firefighting costs and underwrites risky and expensive developments. Passing on more costs to local governments – where home building is permitted – would incentivize better planning.

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In the news:

With this year’s 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act some people are asking whether protected public lands, set aside for conservation, also provide economic benefits in addition to their scenic and recreation values. The good news is that in today’s modern, technologically-advanced economy, wild places can help communities attract and retain talent. Wilderness (and national parks, wildlife refuges, national monuments) also can play a role in attracting the tidal wave of retiring Baby Boomers. And, more obviously, wild places create jobs in outdoor recreation, now a $646 billion industry.