Headwaters-staff-Ray-RaskerRay Rasker, Ph.D.

Ray especially enjoys working with people in rural communities who are passionate about their town and place. He grew up in Mexico City in a Dutch household and came to the U.S. as a student. After obtaining B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Washington and Master’s in Agriculture from Colorado State University, he went on to get a Ph.D. in economics from the College of Forestry, Oregon State University. Ray has worked as a wildlife biologist studying mountain goats and other wildlife and for several years worked in the dairy industry. Ray’s multicultural background and diverse education and experiences allow him to appreciate many different viewpoints. He has written widely on rural development and the role of environmental quality in economic prosperity, and is well known in policy circles in the U.S. and Canada.

Populations at Risk

— Populations at Risk quickly and easily generates and downloads reports about populations more likely to experience adverse social, health, or economic outcomes.

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old faithful, yellowstone
Report

Economic Impact of National Parks

— This interactive and background materials show visits, spending, and the number of jobs created in gateway communities for every National Park Service unit.

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Report

Impact of National Monuments Redesignated National Parks

— Investigating the economic effects of National Monuments redesignated National Parks, and the potential impact of converting the White Sands National Monument to a National Park.

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Report

Gallatin County’s Economy, Growth, and Open Space

— This report summarizes Gallatin County's economy, how it has grown, and what is driving its performance. The report also describes how growth threatens open space and the role these lands play in local quality of life.

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DataViz

Communities Threatened by Wildfire, 2000-2017

— The interactive map identifies frequently threatened towns and cities, including the different sizes and distances of wildfires from nearby communities.

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Report / Series: Rural West Insights

Lessons from the Timber Transition

— Western counties once dependent on timber today perform similarly to like-sized counties. Three case studies outline economic lessons from counties that weathered the timber transition.

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Report

Montana’s Economy, Public Lands, and Competitive Advantage

— This report summarizes Montana’s economy analyzing recent growth and what is driving its performance, including a description of how federal lands help attract people, investment, and businesses.

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Report / Series: Rural West Insights

Economy Surprisingly Dependent on Non-Labor Income

— Non-labor income sources such as investments, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid often are the largest and fastest growing sources of personal income for many counties. Rural counties especially are surprisingly dependent on non-labor income.

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Report

The Value of Public Lands

— Headwaters Economics compiled a number of regional reports, case studies, tools, research library, and related news articles on the value of public lands to nearby communities.

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wildfire-increasingly-an-urban-issue
Report

Wildfire Increasingly an Urban Issue

— Wildfires increasingly are threatening urban areas—often repeatedly—putting more homes, lives, infrastructure, and other resources at risk.

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wildfire approaching subdivision
Report

Reducing Wildfire Risk to Communities

— This report outlines a number of solutions to alter the pace, scale, and pattern of future development in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

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Report

Lessons for Wildfire from Federal Flood Risk Management Programs

— This paper reviews the experience of national floodplain management programs to draw lessons for new approaches to reduce the costs and risks posed by wildfire to properties in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

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Report

Study Finds No Evidence Firewise Lowers Suppression Costs

— Study finds no evidence of a relationship between wildfire suppression costs and Firewise participation, suggesting policies should focus on other solutions to lower future expenditures, such as preventing development in high risk areas.

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Report

The Rising Cost of Wildfire Protection

— This report describes how the protection of homes in the Wildland-Urban Interface has added to wildfire costs and concludes with a discussion of solutions that may help control escalating risks and expenses.

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DataViz

As Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Develops, Firefighting Costs Will Soar

— Fighting wildfires costs have averaged more than $3 billion per year, and home protection contributes substantially to this amount. The majority of the WUI in the West is currently undeveloped, but building on these lands will significantly drive up costs.

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Map with public lands: Western States

West Is Best Reports: News Release

— News release for report that shows how the western United States is outperforming the rest of the country and the role protected federal lands in providing western states a competitive economic advantage.

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Newsletter: Fall 2012

— Our latest research on wildfire trends, improved socioeconomic profiles, fiscal and energy policy, and Montana's Rocky Mountain Front.

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Report

Western Counties and the Recession

— This study provides a number of lessons as the West slowly recovers from the recent recession about why some local economies performed better than others.

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scenic view of wild basin thunder lake
Report

Colorado’s Economy and the Role of Federal Protected Lands

— This report summarizes Colorado's economy and the role of federal protected lands, including how the state has performed, and Colorado's ability to attract people, investment, and businesses.

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Map showing growth of homes in the Wildland Urban Interface
Report

Missoula County Homes at Risk in Flood and Wildfire Areas

— These two slideshows and related information use Missoula County and Western Montana to show how many homes have been built in flood and wildfire hazard areas, which are vulnerable to larger and more frequent floods and fires.

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Front page image of July 2011 newsletter on EPS-HDT.

EPS: Getting the Economics Right

— Headwaters Economics has updated the Economic Profile System (EPS) to help decision makers access and analyze large amounts of information about their communities.

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Map showing Montana portion of Crown of the Continent
Report

Crown of the Continent and Climate Change

— This report studies the possible effects of climate change in the Crown of the Continent on two “snow-pack” dependent sectors of the economy--downhill skiing and recreational fishing.

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Gila region report cover
Report

The Economy of the Gila Region

— This report explores the question of whether and how rural, isolated communities can benefit from being gateways to large expanses of public lands.

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