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.

  • Grand County consists largely of public lands—87 percent of the county is a mix of state and federal lands managed by different agencies for a range of users and purposes.
  • Travel, tourism, and recreation have increased in Grand County during the past several years, accounting for 47 percent of private employment.
  • Grand County has a history of working to balance recreational and energy uses on public lands. New proposals should consider the current economy’s performance and opportunities for sustainable future growth.

scenic canyon arch and sunshine
This updated report, “The Economic Value of Public Lands in Grand County, Utah,” finds travel, tourism, and recreation has further increased in Grand County during the past several years, leading to strong increases in economic activity. Today these sectors help drive the local economy—accounting for 47 percent of private employment in the county.

Headwaters Economics examined a wide range of public lands uses, including mining and agriculture, but focused on recreation because this type of use represents the largest, most complex, and least well understood activity on public lands in the county.

This report updates an earlier October 2011 study commissioned at the request of a number of local interests, businesses, and local officials—to help inform discussions about how to develop, protect, and manage nearby public lands so that they benefit local companies, the county, and diverse users into the future.

The update has two broad goals. First, it analyzes Grand County’s economy in light of the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession. Second, Grand County has a history of working to balance recreational and energy uses on public lands. New proposals—ranging from whether to further increase the recreation and tourism sector, encourage energy development, or emphasize other economic opportunities—should be considered in light of the current economy’s performance and opportunities for sustainable future growth.