West

Region 4

Report / Series: Rural West Insights

Why the Rural West Matters

— The rural West matters for at least three important reasons: the vitality of the region’s landscape; its impact on local, state, and national politics; and the future of the area’s people and communities.

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Report

The Value of Public Lands

— Headwaters Economics compiled a number of regional reports, case studies, tools, research library, and related news articles on the value of public lands to nearby communities.

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old faithful, yellowstone
Report

Economic Impact of National Parks

— This interactive and background materials show visits, spending, and the number of jobs created in gateway communities for every National Park Service unit.

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Report

Time to Create a Natural Resources Trust

— Unlike most countries and state governments, the U.S. has not created a natural resources trust which could help meet volatility and spending challenges facing local and county governments.

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graph of county payments
Report

County Payments Research

— County governments are compensated for the tax-exempt status of federal public lands within their boundaries. These payments often constitute a significant portion of county and school budgets, particularly in rural counties with extensive public land ownership.

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Trail

Oregon Snowmobiler Participation and Priorities

— Across Oregon, snowmobilers account for approximately 353,000 user days per year and $15 million in spending associated with snowmobile trips. Respondents are most concerned about the availability of backcountry, off-trail riding opportunities and sustaining access to existing riding areas.

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Trail

Outdoor Recreation Scarcity and Abundance in Western Oregon: A Spatial Analysis

— Across western Oregon, there is substantial variation in how well the supply of hiking, mountain biking, and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails meets demand for these trails by local users. Although some communities have many miles of trails, such as the 146 miles of mountain biking trails within 60 minutes of Portland, the supply of trails may be too low to support the number of people using them.

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Trail

Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Participation and Priorities

— Across Oregon, off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders account for approximately 3.1 million days of riding per year and nearly $100 million in spending. Sixty percent of respondents support increasing the OHV registration fee from $10 to $15, and more than half identify the maintenance of existing trails as the most important funding priority.

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Trail

Bonner County Trails Final Survey Results

— In rural Bonner County in northern Idaho, trails are used by three-quarters of residents an average of every day in the summer and every other day in the winter. Trail use is high for all residents, even accounting for differences in the length of residence in the county, income, and age. Business owners are more likely to identify trails as an important factor in their decision to move to the county.

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Newsletter: March 2016

— Our latest research on communities threatened by wildfire, the West's economy, trail and pathway use in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and a report on planning for Montana's energy transition.

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Report

Planning for Montana’s Energy Transition

— While Montana is likely to experience relatively small impacts, coal-dependent communities in Eastern Montana are likely to feel the acute effects of job losses and declining tax revenue in the coming decades.

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Newsletter: February 2016

— Our latest research on federal lands in the rural West, land use planning to reduce wildfire risk, and a paper from ten wildfire experts to inform future policy decisions.

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Trail

Adapting To the New Economy: The Impacts of Mountain Bike Tourism in Oakridge, Oregon

— Mountain biking in Oakridge, Oregon contributes substantial economic activity to a small, isolated community deeply affected by the loss of timber jobs. Although the recent rapid growth in the area’s popularity has some residents concerned about cultural change, user conflicts, and environmental concerns, the author is confident these challenges can be overcome.

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Trail

Economic Benefits of Mountain Bike Tourism for Santa Cruz County

— This report on the potential for mountain bike tourism in Santa Cruz County, California demonstrates how trail advocates can use existing research studies to help make a case for trail development in their community. The authors argue that the presence of significant bike industry companies, a large existing social trail network, and appealing climate and terrain create a strong potential for mountain bike tourism.

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Trail

Oregon Non-Motorized Trail Participation and Priorities

— Non-motorized trail users in Oregon account for 162.3 million user days per year, and the vast majority of these days are spent walking or hiking. While these recreation days are associated with substantial expenditures, the amount spent per person per day and the total economic impact vary greatly within the state.

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Trail

Yellowstone-Grand Teton Loop Bicycle Pathway Estimated Economic Impact

— A 262-mile cycle touring loop connecting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, with significant portions on non-motorized pathways, has the potential to generate important economic activity in the small communities through which it would pass. However, due to the challenges of estimating economic impact across a large area and areas close to national parks, the use and economic impact estimates are likely overstated.

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Trail

Jackson Hole Pathways and Trails Survey

— In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a random, statistically representative survey gathered information about residents’ opinions of pathways and trails, including levels and types of use, satisfaction, strengths and weaknesses, and the role the trail system plays in quality of life. The survey found that 91 percent of residents had used the trail system in the previous 12 months and the trail system functions well for recreation, but could use improvements to serve transportation needs.

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Newsletter: December 2015

— Our latest research on the Three Wests, the impacts of federal royalty rate reforms on coal and natural gas, home construction in Montana, and our newest staffer: Janet Clark.

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Report

Home Construction in Montana

— Montana’s housing market is recovering. Explore historical and recent trends in home construction for the state and every county in Montana.

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Newsletter: September 2015

— Our latest research on the benefits of LWCF, home construction in the High Divide region, commercial activities on National Forests, and our newest staffer: Kimiko Barrett.

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Report

Home Construction in the High Divide

— The High Divide region, recognized as one of the most intact biological areas in the lower 48 states, is attracting many new residents and home construction is changing the landscape.

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Newsletter: June 2015

— Our latest research on the updated EPS, economic impacts of National Park Service units, better planning to reduce wildfire risk, the latest county payments and projections, and the new website.

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Newsletter: May 2015

— Our latest research on federal coal royalty reform, reducing wildfire threats, trail user surveys, and Bonner County, Idaho's resilient economy.

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scenic vista of Bonner County, Idaho
Report

Bonner County, Idaho’s Resilient Economy

— Analysis shows that Bonner County’s economy has grown steadily and been resilient, despite recessions and losing several large employers, and many local businesses are committed to the community and its high quality of life.

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Newsletter: April 2015

— Our latest research on trails, the economic value of public lands in Grand County, Utah, economic development opportunities in Wheeler County, Oregon, and climate impacts in the Great Lakes region.

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Trail

Bicycling and Walking in Colorado: Economic Impact and Household Survey Results

— This study found that bicycle tourism draws summertime tourists to Colorado ski areas who would not have come otherwise, many of whom come from out-of-state and generate valuable economic impact. State-wide, residents are most concerned about the safety of cycling and strongly support spending on improvements such as new paved off-street bike paths and linking paths to create a statewide system.

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Trail

Evaluation of the Burke-Gilman Trail’s Effect on Property Values and Crime

— This study found that the Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle is most often seen as an asset by those who moved to the neighborhood after it was built, while those who have lived there since before the trail was built are less likely to see the trail as increasing the sales price or ease of selling their home. Crime associated with the trail is negligible and adjacent property owners’ biggest concern is privacy.

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Trail

Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition Rider Survey

— This study found that the Galbraith Mountain mountain bike trail system is a valuable asset for local residents, many of whom moved to the area or stay in the area because of the trails, and for visitors, who visit frequently and spend money at local businesses. While the club building the trails is developing a destination-worthy trail system, they are also providing significant benefits for the local cycling community.

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Trail

Analysis of Touring Cyclists: Impacts, Needs and Opportunities for Montana

— This study found that cycle tourists in Montana spend an average of $76 per day and stay eight days in the state during their trip, much longer than the average tourist. Safety is cycle tourists’ top priority, so supporting more cycle touring in the state requires investments in safer routes, including narrower rumble strips, wider shoulders, and bike paths separate from roadways in high-traffic, high-speed areas.

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Trail

An Economic Impact Study of Bicycling in Arizona

— This study found that Arizona drew 14,000 out-of-state visitors to 250 cycling events in 2012. Because most participants stay for an average of only four days, their visits have a relatively small economic impact in the state-wide economy. However, these events are likely significant to small towns (see 69) and local spending associated with Arizona residents traveling within the state may generate significant additional economic impact (see a similar study in Oregon 68).

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Trail

Project Brief: The Economic Impact of Mountain Bicycle Events in Oregon

— This study found that mountain biking events in Oregon are popular, with a large proportion of overnight visitors who stay for several nights. While these events can generate a large spending infusion for local businesses, particularly in small communities, it is typically short-lived unless the event adds to visitation throughout the season.

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Trail

Columbia River Gorge Bicycle Recreation: Economic Impact Forecast for the Communities along the Historic Columbia River Highway

— This study found that road cycling and mountain biking are valuable sources of income for communities close to the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. According to survey results, a proposed trail improvement that would increase the uninterrupted length of the trail and improve rider safety could significantly increase economic impact by increasing the trail’s appeal for overnight users.

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Trail

Economic Impacts of MVSTA Trails and Land Resources in the Methow Valley

— This study found that the 200-kilometer Nordic skiing trail network in the Methow Valley of Washington state is the reason why many people visit the area and choose to purchase homes there. Non-resident trail users and residents alike are largely willing to pay some amount of money to support trail maintenance and additional trail construction.

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Trail

The Economic Impact of Snowmobiling in Valley County

— This study found that snowmobilers from outside Valley County, Idaho are an important source of revenue during the winter months, spending an average of three days per trip and $106 per day. This revenue stream is highly susceptible to weather, with visits dropping 40 percent in a low snow year.

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Trail

Montana Recreational Snowmobiles: Fuel-Use and Spending Patterns 2013

— This study found that snowmobiling is associated with high daily spending in Montana, with the average resident snowmobiler spending $108 per day and the average non-resident spending $148 per day. Despite the 4,000 miles of groomed trails available in the state, snowmobiling remains primarily an activity enjoyed by residents, who accounted for 93 percent of snowmobiling days in 2013.

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Newsletter: March 2015

— Our latest research on county payments, federal coal royalties, Montana's economy and its public lands, and the economic opportunities in the Blackfoot River watershed.

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Trail

The Economic Benefits of Mountain Biking at One of Its Meccas: An Application of the Travel Cost Method to Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah

— This study found that the Slickrock Trail, a world-famous mountain bike trail in Moab, Utah, draws a large number of avid users annually, who are willing to travel long distances and spend large sums to reach it. Because access fees are a relatively low portion of overall trip cost, visitation rates are unlikely to change much even if they are increased.

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Trail

Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey: Findings Report

— This study found that while 70 percent of Missoula residents were willing to pay more taxes to acquire open space and build new trails and recreation facilities, still more (77%) were willing to pay more taxes to maintain existing facilities. Eighty-six percent of all residents had used City parks in the previous 12 months, highlighting the importance of within-community trails even in rural areas with public lands nearby.

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Trail

Jackson Hole Trail Project Economic Impact Study

— This study found that locals are the main beneficiary of the Teton County, Wyoming trail system, although visitors are increasingly enjoying area trails outside of Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The economic impact of the trails may be significant, but is difficult to estimate without knowing how many visitors come to the area just for the trail system.

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Trail

Trails on Tribal Lands in the United States

— This study found that the benefits of trails in Indian Country may be more significant than in other communities that are less culturally or spatially fragmented, less politically and economically marginalized, or less culturally tied to the landscape. Trails can provide particularly valuable benefits to residents of Indian Country, helping to improve residents’ quality of life in several dimensions: connecting tribal members to each other and to culturally significant sites and natural resources; providing safe alternative transportation routes across the reservation; providing opportunities for safe exercise; and providing opportunities for economic development and cultural education.

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Trail

Estimating Social Welfare Using Count Data Models: An Application to Long-Run Recreation Demand Under Conditions of Endogenous Stratification and Truncation

— This study found that surveys that directly extrapolate the number of times an individual person visits a trail to the general population will significantly overstate the future trail use. Care must be taken to account for the differences between those interviewed at the trailhead and the rest of the population.

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Trail

Wildfire Effects on Hiking and Biking Demand in New Mexico: A Travel Cost Study

— This study found that crown wildfires that cross trails are likely to have a dramatic effect on use and individual benefit for hikers and mountain bikers that persists for decades after the fire occurs. Prescribed fires are also shown to decrease benefits and use for both groups, but these declines occur gradually over decades rather than an immediate drop in the year of a wildfire.

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Trail

Estimating the Benefits and Costs to Mountain Bikers of Changes in Trail Characteristics, Access Fees, and Site Closures: Choice Experiments and Benefits Transfer

— This study found that all mountain bikers, from casual to the most avid, are most likely to ride on trails without hikers or equestrians, and are willing to pay a fee to ride on these trails. While mountain bikers are more likely to use singletrack trails, only the most avid are willing to pay a fee to extend the proportion of a ride that is singletrack.

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Trail

Outdoor Recreation Net Benefits of Rail-Trails

— This study found that trail users are willing to incur greater expenses and travel further to use rural trails, and spend more time on those trails while they are there, indicating these trails are enjoyed by both locals and non-locals. Urban trails, on the other hand, are mainly a resource for local residents, and are used much more frequently and for shorter periods of times.

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Trail

Community Economic Contributions from Recreational Trails Usage on Public Lands: Implications from a Comprehensive Wyoming Study

— This study found that trail-related recreation on Wyoming’s 10,000 miles of trails, both motorized and non-motorized, generates substantial spending for local businesses and tax revenue for state and local governments. While off-road vehicle (ORV) and snowmobile users generate far more spending in this analysis, the incomplete assessment of non-motorized users makes it difficult to make comparisons of impact between motorized and non-motorized users.

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uhaul trucks
Report

Migration & Population Trends in the West Vary by County Type

— County migration and population trends in the West constantly change. We summarize counties into four types--high-wage services, farm-dependent, oil and natural gas boom, and retirement destinations--to show the relationship between population and economic structure.

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Newsletter: December 2014

— Our latest research on migration and population trends in the West, the Tongass Transition Framework, the need for a Natural Resources Trust, and the impact of the federal budget on county payments.

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Headwaters-staff-Mark-Haggerty
Mark Haggerty
Blog

Time for a U.S. Natural Resources Trust?

— Compared to other nations and even U.S. states, the federal government is a conspicuous laggard in creating a natural resources trust which would allow for stable, permanent, and ever rising payments to states and local governments without risks to taxpayers.

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Newsletter: November 2014

— Our latest research on reducing wildfire risk to communities, monitoring the impact of fracking on communities, lessons for wildfire from the federal flood programs, and how renewable energy tax benefits vary widely among rural counties.

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Report

How Is Fracking Shaping Your Community and Economy?

— Monitoring can help local governments better understand the socioeconomic impacts caused by energy development, and support requests to industry and state government for assistance to implement appropriate mitigation.

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Newsletter: July 2014

— Our latest research on National Monuments, commercial activities on National Forests, the economic impact of National Parks, and using an index to target county payments.

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Newsletter: April 2014

— Our latest research on Firewise and suppression costs, case studies of how western communities respond to wildfire risk, the economic impact of National Park Service units, and measuring the restoration economy.

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Newsletter: March 2014

— Our latest research on the importance of non-labor income in the West, unconventional oil revenues, and free socioeconomic reports with details on every U.S. county.

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Newsletter: December 2013

— Our latest research on the economic impact of long-term energy development, an interactive atlas of the West's economy, winners and losers from proposed county payments reforms, North Dakota's oil revenue sharing program, and the economic potential of the Owyhee Canyonlands in Malheur County, Oregon.

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Newsletter: Fall 2013

— Our latest research on climate impacts in the Great Lakes region, using tools to determine vulnerability to climate change, understanding income from National Forests, and why state tax policy matters.

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Newsletter: June 2013

— Our latest research on the rising cost of wildfires, an interactive atlas on the climate and economy of the Great Northern Landscape region, testimony before the U.S. Senate on county payments, and updated timber cut and sold reports.

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Report

The Rising Cost of Wildfire Protection

— This report describes how the protection of homes in the Wildland-Urban Interface has added to wildfire costs and concludes with a discussion of solutions that may help control escalating risks and expenses.

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Newsletter: Winter 2013

— Our latest research on the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), an interactive map on how protected public lands impact per capita income, policy on energy transmission, and the economic potential for a new Maine National Park.

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men working at restoration site
Report

Restoring the Clark Fork River

— Headwaters Economics worked with the Clark Fork Coalition, U.S. Forest Service, and others to create an interactive tool that describes many of the stories behind the ongoing recovery of the Clark Fork River.

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Map with public lands: Western States
/ Series: West Is Best

West Is Best Reports: News Release

— News release for report that shows how the western United States is outperforming the rest of the country and the role protected federal lands in providing western states a competitive economic advantage.

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Newsletter: Fall 2012

— Our latest research on wildfire trends, improved socioeconomic profiles, fiscal and energy policy, and Montana's Rocky Mountain Front.

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riding horses on the rocky mountain front
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Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front

— This report analyzes the Front’s land, people, and economy, how the region has changed in important ways during the past several decades, and the potential impact of the proposed Rocky Mountain Heritage Act on the Front.

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Western Counties and the Recession

— This study provides a number of lessons as the West slowly recovers from the recent recession about why some local economies performed better than others.

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solar power installation
Report

Green Jobs Metrics

— This research summary offers an overview of efforts to quantify the national green economy in terms of job creation from several perspectives.

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Clean Energy Transmission

— Headwaters Economics analyzed transmission infrastructure issues from the perspective of regional economic development, and other topics most relevant to local and state decision makers.

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Image of rig count interactive
Report

County Level Drilling Activity, 2001-2011

— This report focuses on county-level details of drilling rig activity for the period 2001 to 2011 in the six Rocky Mountain oil and gas states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

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Carey, Idaho and Economic Recovery

— This report summarizes interviews with local government and business leaders on obstacles to and opportunities for local economic recovery in Carey, Idaho from the last recession.

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Front page image of July 2011 newsletter on EPS-HDT.

EPS: Getting the Economics Right

— Headwaters Economics has updated the Economic Profile System (EPS) to help decision makers access and analyze large amounts of information about their communities.

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Rig Worker in Western Colorado
Report

Fossil Fuel Extraction and Western Economies

— This study analyzes the fossil fuel economy in five Rocky Mountain states—CO, MT, NM, UT, and WY—and how states and communities can maximize benefits and minimize the costs of energy development.

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Map showing Montana portion of Crown of the Continent
Report

Crown of the Continent and Climate Change

— This report studies the possible effects of climate change in the Crown of the Continent on two “snow-pack” dependent sectors of the economy--downhill skiing and recreational fishing.

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Aerial of Yellowstone River
Report

Yellowstone River Atlas

— This site documents the economic and demographic conditions of counties bordering the Yellowstone River, and displays maps showing past, current, and forecasted residential development along the river.

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Clearwater collaborative
Report

Clearwater Basin Collaborative

— The Clearwater Basin Collaborative is a diverse group of regional interests working together to craft a plan for the protection, use, and management of National Forest land within the Clearwater Basin in Idaho.

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Sitka meeting

Sitka, Alaska Workshop

— Headwaters Economics facilitated a day-long workshop on how to apply the Forest Service's new Integrated Resource Management approach on the Sitka Ranger District.

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Okanogan valley
Report

Ranchland Ownership in Okanogan County, WA

— This report on land ownership and the ranching economy in the Okanogan Valley and Eastern Okanogan County focuses on fragmentation and turnover in large, agricultural properties and the effects of these trends.

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map of high divide counties
Report

High Divide GIS Data

— Headwaters Economics developed historical and forecasted housing data for the High Divide based on county tax assessor records. Download GIS data showing 2013 home counts per Public Land Survey Section.

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Gila region report cover
Report

The Economy of the Gila Region

— This report explores the question of whether and how rural, isolated communities can benefit from being gateways to large expanses of public lands.

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Report

Santa Fe National Forest Workshop

— The workshop involved the public in developing a new Forest Plan in light of the socioeconomic situation of the area and how it has changed since the last Forest Plan was adopted.

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