“Mobile homes are the most common affordable housing strategy in the United States,” said Kristin Smith, who researches flood recovery at the think tank Headwaters Economics, “And I think a lot of people don’t know that.”
There are thousands of popular hiking trails in the Mountain West, but until recently it’s been difficult to measure just how many people use them. Now, the nonprofit Headwaters Economics is combining infrared counters with fitness tracking apps to accurately measure trail use so that land managers can get a better sense of how to spend on recreation improvements.
A report from Headwaters Economics showed that communities with fewer staff and less expertise were less likely to win grants from a federal wildfire-defense program. The Forest Service is trying two new tools to help these places, which tend to be rural, be more successful.
According to a Headwaters Economics Neighborhoods At Risk stormwater tool that Cedar Key used to create their plans, nearly 60 percent of properties are vulnerable to flooding during storms.
The abundance of natural attractions is sometimes called the amenity trap, and at least one research group has funded a study to help communities avoid “being loved to death.”
Headwaters Economics released this spring “Building for Wildfire in Montana: Protecting Communities with Statewide Wildfire Safety Standards.” This week, Montana’s Commissioner of Securities and Insurance issued a warning about insurance companies declining some coverage in Montana because of fire.
The agency and the company likely use different assumptions over how much energy production might occur over the next two decades, which could account for the large discrepancy, said Megan Lawson, an economist with Headwaters Economics, a Montana-based independent nonprofit research group.
According to an index developed by the nonprofit Headwaters Economics, 73 percent of Midwest communities have “low capacity” for climate resilience.
Until now, the heightened flood risk faced by mobile home park residents has received scant attention, said Kristin K. Smith from Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research group.
Meanwhile, in the Western U.S., wildfires are happening more often and burning longer, says Kimiko Barrett, a wildfire research and policy analyst at Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research group.
That double-edge sword of being a desirable outdoor recreation destination is known as the “amenity trap,” according to a new report from Bozeman-based Headwaters Economics. The report looks at the benefits and burdens faced by towns whose riches in outdoor recreation have brought a wealth of visitors too.
Last month, a report by Montana’s Headwaters Economics outlined the paradoxical challenges of living in a mountain town so plentiful with natural features that its allure brings in crushing numbers of visitors and second-home owners, thereby degrading the quality of life for locals. The report called this type of town an “amenity trap.”
Recent reports from researchers at Headwaters Economics and the Sightline Institute point to the need to rethink human development in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the zone where flammable, unoccupied land meets man–made communities.
Places like Whitefish and Bozeman have booming ski resorts, but no place where resort workers can afford to live. Those tourist-driven challenges might have tourist-paid solutions, according to a new report by Headwaters Economics that examines the double-edged sword of benefits and burdens for communities known for their outdoor recreation amenities.
When awarding grants through the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program, the federal government aimed to prioritize communities that are low-income and face serious wildfire risk. Montana-based Headwaters Economics analyzed the first group of grantees and found that, so far, the program’s largely meeting its objectives.
It’s clear we need to develop a plan for making our communities safer in the face of this growing wildfire threat. Headwaters Economics recently released a report that shows how it can be done, and it begins with making smart investments in fire preparedness and in changing our dangerously outdated state laws and building codes.
“Wildfires are the exception with natural disasters in that they are the only type of hazard where we would intentionally put somebody else in harm’s way in order to protect our home,” said researcher Kimiko Barrett [of Headwaters Economcs]. “You’d be called crazy if you asked somebody to stand in front of an oncoming flood to protect your structure. Yet, we continually do this with wildfires. Not only do we do it, but we assume it. We expect it.”
Although Bozeman is also exploring high-density developments in its urban core, population growth frequently manifests as sprawl into previously open land. An analysis by Headwaters Economics found that 96,000 acres of open space in Gallatin Countywere converted to residential development between 1990 and 2018, besting the next-highest county in the state, Flathead, by 27%.
Another option to gauge community risk is Wildfire Risk to Communities, an effort between USDA and Headwaters Economics, an independent, nonprofit researcher. Users can type in a community or county into the interactive site to look at maps and understand, explore, and reduce wildfire risk.