Headwaters-staff-Chris-MehlChris Mehl

Chris has extensive communications and public policy experience on issues facing towns, cities, and counties across the country. In addition to being the Policy Director at Headwaters Economics, Chris also serves as the elected Deputy Mayor of Bozeman. He previously worked as Press Secretary for several Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Chris holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and greatly enjoys the hiking, cross country skiing, and outdoor opportunities available in the northern Rockies.

Newsletter: October 2018

— Our latest research, Newsletter: October 2018, contains research on Austin wildfires and vulnerable populations, watershed and recreation best practices, San Luis Valley and wildfire, and diversifying Bonner County, Idaho's economy.

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Headwaters-staff-Chris-Mehl
Chris Mehl
Blog

City Trails: Improving Equitable Access

— Urban trail efforts increasingly are focusing on providing equitable access to trails. Trails and parks can create substantial benefits for public health, property values, and quality of life.

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Newsletter: June 2018

— Our latest research on the economic impact of National Parks, homes in high-risk wildfire areas in Montana, updated socioeconomic reports by sector, and downloadable economic profiles for communities near National Forests.

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Newsletter: May 2018

— Our latest research on the full local cost of wildfires, National Monuments redesignated as National Parks, transition plans for coal communities, Gallatin County's economy and open space, and measuring the economic impact of proposed trails.

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Newsletter: April 2018

— Our latest research on communities threatened by wildfires, Montana losing open space to home construction, the economic impact of trails in Whitefish, Montana, and an update to our Populations at Risk reports for any community, county, or state.

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Newsletter: February 2018

— Our latest research on the benefits of trails to communities, creating an endowment to provide stable federal county payments, the Taos County economy, and mapping vulnerable populations whether in Great Lakes cities or with wildfire risk in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Newsletter: December 2017

— Our latest research on timber transitions, improving coal fiscal policies, planning for wildfire risk in Montana, and staff commentary on county poverty rates and youth migration in the West.

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Newsletter: November 2017

— Our latest research on helping communities reduce wildfire risk, the latest data and updated tools to help users better understand their economy, the West-Wide Atlas, and the Economic Profile System.

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Newsletter: September 2017

— Our latest research on best practices to fund state outdoor recreation, Montana's economy, Taos and wildfire, and blog commentary from staff.

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Newsletter: August 2017

— Our latest research on the importance of non-labor income, minority populations in the rural West, assistance to communities to reduce wildfire risk, and new data showing commercial activities on National Forests.

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Newsletter: July 2017

— Our latest research on proposed budget cuts to county payments, identifying populations at risk, comparing socioeconomic trends in Gunnison County, Colorado to adjacent counties, and rural economic development in Lincoln, Montana.

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Hooper Park Pavilion, Lincoln, Montana
Report

Rural Economic Development in Lincoln, Montana

— Many rural western towns face economic uncertainty. This report—informed by interviews and public meetings with residents—compares Lincoln to peer communities and outlines rural economic development options building on the town’s strengths.

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Newsletter: June 2017

— Our latest research on the local economic importance of National Monuments, the impact of every National Park Service unit to gateway communities, and details for public lands in every county and state in the nation.

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Newsletter: April 2017

— Our latest research on the rural West, communities at risk from closing coal plants, improving wildfire policy to reduce risks and costs, and using the latest data to better understand the characteristics of your community—whether age, housing costs, race, poverty, or education.

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Report / Series: Rural West Insights

Why the Rural West Matters

— The rural West matters for at least three important reasons: the vitality of the region’s landscape; its impact on local, state, and national politics; and the future of the area’s people and communities.

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Newsletter: February 2017

— Our latest research on the value of federal public lands, manufacturing in the West, economic data and trends for communities, and government employment's role in local economies.

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Newsletter: December 2016

— Our latest research on oil & natural gas taxes, the value of public and protected lands, communities utilizing land use planning to reduce wildfire risks and costs, trail use in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and migration patterns across the American West.

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Newsletter: November 2016

— Our latest research on dam removal benefits, Taos trails and access, socioeconomic data for every National Forest community, commercial activities on National Forests, and our newest staffer Kelly Pohl.

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Newsletter: August and November 2016

— Our latest research on dam removal benefits, Taos trails and access, socioeconomic data for every National Forest community, commercial activities on National Forests, and our newest staffer Kelly Pohl.

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Newsletter: May 2016

— Our latest research showing the economic impact of every National Park Service unit, ways to reform wildlife refuge payments to local governments, an improved trails library, and a survey of the value of trails in Bonner County, Idaho.

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Newsletter: April 2016

— Our latest research showing the new tool: Populations at Risk (PAR); the Economic Profile System (EPS); and our new Associate Director, Patty Gude.

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Newsletter: March 2016

— Our latest research on communities threatened by wildfire, the West's economy, trail and pathway use in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and a report on planning for Montana's energy transition.

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Newsletter: February 2016

— Our latest research on federal lands in the rural West, land use planning to reduce wildfire risk, and a paper from ten wildfire experts to inform future policy decisions.

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Newsletter: December 2015

— Our latest research on the Three Wests, the impacts of federal royalty rate reforms on coal and natural gas, home construction in Montana, and our newest staffer: Janet Clark.

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Headwaters-staff-Chris-Mehl
Chris Mehl
Blog

Know Your Economy: Economic Tools Updated for Every County

— Understanding the local economy, and how it compares to peers, is a crucial part of smart community and economic development. Several new tools, utilizing the latest data (through 2014), now are available for every county in the nation.

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Newsletter: September 2015

— Our latest research on the benefits of LWCF, home construction in the High Divide region, commercial activities on National Forests, and our newest staffer: Kimiko Barrett.

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Newsletter: June 2015

— Our latest research on the updated EPS, economic impacts of National Park Service units, better planning to reduce wildfire risk, the latest county payments and projections, and the new website.

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Newsletter: May 2015

— Our latest research on federal coal royalty reform, reducing wildfire threats, trail user surveys, and Bonner County, Idaho's resilient economy.

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Newsletter: April 2015

— Our latest research on trails, the economic value of public lands in Grand County, Utah, economic development opportunities in Wheeler County, Oregon, and climate impacts in the Great Lakes region.

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economic grand county
Report

The Economic Value of Public Lands in Grand County, Utah

— This updated report analyzes the economic value of public lands in Grand County, Utah and the important role that these lands play for local businesses and the well-being of the region’s economy.

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Newsletter: March 2015

— Our latest research on county payments, federal coal royalties, Montana's economy and its public lands, and the economic opportunities in the Blackfoot River watershed.

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Newsletter: December 2014

— Our latest research on migration and population trends in the West, the Tongass Transition Framework, the need for a Natural Resources Trust, and the impact of the federal budget on county payments.

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Newsletter: November 2014

— Our latest research on reducing wildfire risk to communities, monitoring the impact of fracking on communities, lessons for wildfire from the federal flood programs, and how renewable energy tax benefits vary widely among rural counties.

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Newsletter: July 2014

— Our latest research on National Monuments, commercial activities on National Forests, the economic impact of National Parks, and using an index to target county payments.

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Newsletter: April 2014

— Our latest research on Firewise and suppression costs, case studies of how western communities respond to wildfire risk, the economic impact of National Park Service units, and measuring the restoration economy.

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home and approaching wildfire
Report

Local Responses to Wildfire Risks Are Limited

— This study reviews how western communities are addressing wildfire risk, how they have responded to recent major fires, and useful lessons and public policy insights for the future.

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Newsletter: March 2014

— Our latest research on the importance of non-labor income in the West, unconventional oil revenues, and free socioeconomic reports with details on every U.S. county.

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Newsletter: December 2013

— Our latest research on the economic impact of long-term energy development, an interactive atlas of the West's economy, winners and losers from proposed county payments reforms, North Dakota's oil revenue sharing program, and the economic potential of the Owyhee Canyonlands in Malheur County, Oregon.

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Newsletter: Fall 2013

— Our latest research on climate impacts in the Great Lakes region, using tools to determine vulnerability to climate change, understanding income from National Forests, and why state tax policy matters.

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Newsletter: June 2013

— Our latest research on the rising cost of wildfires, an interactive atlas on the climate and economy of the Great Northern Landscape region, testimony before the U.S. Senate on county payments, and updated timber cut and sold reports.

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Newsletter: Winter 2013

— Our latest research on the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), an interactive map on how protected public lands impact per capita income, policy on energy transmission, and the economic potential for a new Maine National Park.

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riding horses on the rocky mountain front
Report

Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front

— This report analyzes the Front’s land, people, and economy, how the region has changed in important ways during the past several decades, and the potential impact of the proposed Rocky Mountain Heritage Act on the Front.

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NM Natural Assets
Report

The Economic Benefits of Southern New Mexico’s Natural Assets

— This report examines how investments in conservation and restoration provide both an immediate return through employment and revenue and help promote long-term economic growth that extends far beyond tourism.

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Report

Land Use Effects of Paving Rural Roads

— This report, a first step toward understanding how paving rural roads impacts land use, reviewed eight projects in western Montana

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Headwaters Economics Newsletter cover- Jan 2008

Home Development on Fire-Prone Lands

— Our newsletter on how more and more people are building homes in the western "wildland urban interface," the forested areas where housing borders undeveloped public lands.

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