Research

White papers, online information tools, atlases, maps, and statistical analyses.

Report

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.

read more
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.

read more
Report

Time to Create a Natural Resources Trust

Unlike most countries and state governments, the U.S. has not created a natural resources trust which could help meet volatility and spending challenges facing local and county governments.

read more
graph of county payments
Report

County Payments Research

County governments are compensated for the tax-exempt status of federal public lands within their boundaries. These payments often constitute a significant portion of county and school budgets, particularly in rural counties with extensive public land ownership.

read more
Report

Planning for Montana’s Energy Transition

While Montana is likely to experience relatively small impacts, coal-dependent communities in Eastern Montana are likely to feel the acute effects of job losses and declining tax revenue in the coming decades.

read more
county payments map
DataViz

County Payments: History, Context, and Policy

These interactive maps show how federal land payments are distributed to counties and states. Explore both the Payments History maps as well as the Policy Options maps which project what happens if SRS is not reauthorized or if PILT is reformed into a single payment to counties.

read more
featured-image-dataviz-three-wests
DataViz

Three Wests

Research shows there are three distinctly different types of counties in the West, defined by their access to major markets and population centers.

read more
Report

Home Construction in Montana

Montana’s housing market is recovering. Explore historical and recent trends in home construction for the state and every county in Montana.

read more
Report

Home Construction in the High Divide

The High Divide region, recognized as one of the most intact biological areas in the lower 48 states, is attracting many new residents and home construction is changing the landscape.

read more
scenic vista of Bonner County, Idaho
Report

Bonner County, Idaho’s Resilient Economy

Analysis shows that Bonner County’s economy has grown steadily and been resilient, despite recessions and losing several large employers, and many local businesses are committed to the community and its high quality of life.

read more
uhaul trucks
Report

Migration & Population Trends in the West Vary by County Type

County migration and population trends in the West constantly change. We summarize counties into four types–high-wage services, farm-dependent, oil and natural gas boom, and retirement destinations–to show the relationship between population and economic structure.

read more
DataViz

Across the West, Non-Labor Income Is Large and Growing

Among western counties, non-labor income makes up 41 percent of total personal income and is growing, representing 60 percent of net personal income growth in the last decade. Comprised of three main types—investments, age related, and hardship payments— non-labor income is affected by the stock market, retiring Baby Boomers, and changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

read more
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.

read more
map of Michigan's Upper Penninsula
Report

The Upper Peninsula’s Economy and a Changing Climate

This post summarizes the Climate Adaptation Report which provides a description of key economic sectors at greatest risk from extreme weather or long-term climate shifts and is intended to prepare the region’s forests, water resources, and communities for a less certain future.

read more
men working at restoration site
Report

Restoring the Clark Fork River

Headwaters Economics worked with the Clark Fork Coalition, U.S. Forest Service, and others to create an interactive tool that describes many of the stories behind the ongoing recovery of the Clark Fork River.

read more
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.

read more
solar power installation
Report

Green Jobs Metrics

This research summary offers an overview of efforts to quantify the national green economy in terms of job creation from several perspectives.

read more
Report

Clean Energy Transmission

Headwaters Economics analyzed transmission infrastructure issues from the perspective of regional economic development, and other topics most relevant to local and state decision makers.

read more
Image of rig count interactive
Report

County Level Drilling Activity, 2001-2011

This report focuses on county-level details of drilling rig activity for the period 2001 to 2011 in the six Rocky Mountain oil and gas states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

read more
Report

Carey, Idaho and Economic Recovery

This report summarizes interviews with local government and business leaders on obstacles to and opportunities for local economic recovery in Carey, Idaho from the last recession.

read more
Aerial of Yellowstone River
Report

Yellowstone River Atlas

This site documents the economic and demographic conditions of counties bordering the Yellowstone River, and displays maps showing past, current, and forecasted residential development along the river.

read more
Clearwater collaborative
Report

Clearwater Basin Collaborative

The Clearwater Basin Collaborative is a diverse group of regional interests working together to craft a plan for the protection, use, and management of National Forest land within the Clearwater Basin in Idaho.

read more
Okanogan valley
Report

Ranchland Ownership in Okanogan County, WA

This report on land ownership and the ranching economy in the Okanogan Valley and Eastern Okanogan County focuses on fragmentation and turnover in large, agricultural properties and the effects of these trends.

read more
map of high divide counties
Report

High Divide GIS Data

Headwaters Economics developed historical and forecasted housing data for the High Divide based on county tax assessor records. Download GIS data showing 2013 home counts per Public Land Survey Section.

read more
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.

read more
Report

Santa Fe National Forest Workshop

The workshop involved the public in developing a new Forest Plan in light of the socioeconomic situation of the area and how it has changed since the last Forest Plan was adopted.

read more