“We’re recruiting talent that could go to Boston, New York, L.A.,” said Ray Rasker, executive editor of Bozeman, Montana-based Headwaters Economics and a consultant for the BEA. “The surrounding public land is the ace in the hole. If you come here, you can go fly fishing after work, or ride your mountain bike.”
…For western states, where most federal land is concentrated, national parks and forests are a key economic driver. One study by Headwaters Economics found that, from 1970 to 2015, counties with the most federal land saw faster population growth, and higher growth in incomes and jobs, than counties with the least. National parks alone added $20.3 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2017—a 28 percent increase from 2012, according to the National Park Service.