Research

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

Report

Planning Tools to Reduce Montana’s Wildfire Risk

— County governments, fire districts and service areas, and landowners have many opportunities to reduce wildfire risk in the wildland-urban interface through land use planning tools and strategies, though challenges in Montana’s regulatory framework remain.

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Report

Resilient Taos County: Living with Wildfire

— This story map provides Taos County residents with information about the ecological role of fire, the region’s wildfire risk, forest restoration projects, and emergency preparedness.

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Report

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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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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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.

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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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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

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.

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Report

Dam Removal Case Studies

— Six dam removal case studies on the fiscal, economic, environmental, and social benefits of dam removal.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Med-western US states
Report

Unconventional Oil and Gas Revenues to Local Governments

— This report includes seven major energy-producing states and a new interactive adds four more (AR, LA, and PA). The study and interactive compare how local governments receive production tax revenue from unconventional oil and natural gas.

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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.

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Report

How Is Fracking Shaping Your Community and Economy?

— Monitoring can help local governments better understand the socioeconomic impacts caused by energy development, and support requests to industry and state government for assistance to implement appropriate mitigation.

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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.

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DataViz

Non-Labor Income for Western Counties, Sortable Data Table

— Across the West, non-labor income is a large and growing source of personal income. This sortable county-level interactive allows users to review the importance of three largest sources of non-labor income: investments, age related, and hardship payments.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rig Worker in Western Colorado
Report

Fossil Fuel Extraction and Western Economies

— This study analyzes the fossil fuel economy in five Rocky Mountain states—CO, MT, NM, UT, and WY—and how states and communities can maximize benefits and minimize the costs of energy development.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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