Communities across the nation are vying for funds from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package. Some of that money is designed to address wildfire, drought, floods and other climate-induced crises, but many small rural communities in our region lack the tools to get that money, like planning departments, broadband access, and civic engagement.
The Forest Service unveils its final forest plan for one of the country’s most ecologically, economically and culturally diverse national forests.
“At the end of the day, being able to plan proactively and do resilience planning is a privilege. Most communities do not have the resources.”
In California, as in much of the world, climate anxiety and climate futurism coalesce into trans-apocalyptic pessimism. But, in spite of the doom, Weil suggests the situation is not completely devoid of hope.
Kristin Smith, a researcher with Headwaters Economics, spends her time running the numbers and said that the billion-dollar estimate on the cost of the Marshall fire is only the beginning.
“The full cost of a wildfire is not just about property damage,” she said. “With any disaster, there are rippling impacts that people tend to overlook.”
“What we’re starting to see is that affordable housing can no longer be ignored,” said Headwaters economist Megan Lawson. “There are more people recognizing the need to get involved in this conversation, especially big employers.”
Those cities saw median home values rise by more than 20% last year according to an analysis from the nonprofit Headwaters Economics in Montana. Megan Lawson, an economist with that group, said she doesn’t expect housing prices to collapse anytime soon. But she does think they’ll eventually slow down and stabilize.
Kimiko Barrett, who studies wildfire at Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit that aims to make “complex data understandable” so others can make better decisions around land use, helped snap this into focus for me one afternoon. We have, she said, “a home-ignition problem, more than a wildland-fire problem.” So simple, yet such a profound shift. Until we accept this, we’re going to remain deluded and stuck.
Earnings from outdoor recreation stumbled a bit in 2020 because of the pandemic, but the sector remained an important part of the U.S. economy, according to a new interactive report from Headwaters Economics.
“They can’t hire employees to staff the restaurants, to guide their rafts, to teach ski lessons,” she said, “because those folks can’t afford to live in these places.
Montana lost over 1.6 million acres of farmland between 20212 and 2017.
“I think that shines a light on the economic opportunity that outdoor recreation presents for communities, that even in a pandemic, it still has the power to bring visitors in and bring that spending in,” Lawson said.
Some of Lawson’s more recent research shows more people moving to counties with lots of recreational opportunities and those newcomers tend to have higher incomes than people moving to cities. And those new residents appear more ready to direct tax dollars toward conservation.
Three Forks has developed a plan for mitigating flood risk, but failed to receive federal funding when it applied earlier this year. However, under the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill passed in Congress last week, FEMA’s program for reducing flood damage has seen its budget more than triple to $700 million annually.
“Now, with this bill, they are likely to get that money,” Ms. Hernandez said. “And their flood risk reduction project will also help the region’s housing affordability and economy.”
“The scale of the transition, from a fiscal point of view, is beyond what any one community or county can handle,” Smith said. “There is not a single industry — sports and events or otherwise — that will be able to generate revenue like coal has for Campbell County.”
“A lot of times the folks who own these places are able to bid up the prices and pay a little more for those houses knowing that they can recoup some of that price premium by renting the house out,” says Megan Lawson, an economist with the nonprofit Headwaters Economics.
A report from Headwaters Economics shows that the cost of building a fireproof structure from the ground up doesn’t differ significantly from the cost of building any other home from scratch.
A new report from Headwaters Economics shows that 20 rural counties across Kansas are now considered unaffordable for renters.
“What was very apparent to us is that these unprecedented price increases that we’ve been seeing lots of anecdotes about aren’t isolated,” said Headwaters Economics researcher Megan Lawson. “It’s incredibly widespread.”