…In a study that ONDA commissioned to examine the potential economic benefits of designating the Badlands area outside of Bend as a federal wilderness area, the Montana-based non-profit research firm Headwaters Economics found that counties with protected federal lands, including wilderness, outperformed their counterparts in a number of key economic indicators, including per capita income, job and population growth.
:There is a lot of complaining about public lands, but from an economics perspective having public lands is a good thing and demonstrably so,” said Ben Alexander who helped write the Badlands report for ONDA.
It’s a phenomenon that has played out not just across the Western United States, but also around the world where entrepreneurs and educated members of the workforce are seeking out so-called quality of life destinations, identifying the places they want to live and locating there. Wilderness and other protected areas like national parks, it turns out, factor significantly into those decisions. In some cases, the transplants bring their businesses or their jobs with them, in other cases the jobs are following the skilled workforce, explained Alexander.… (more…)