LOGAN – Recently, two Utah State University professors set out to determine the economic impact of national monuments to the residents of nearby communities by researching per capita income of adjacent counties.
Critics of national monuments claim such designations harm local economies while proponents say increased tourism makes up for potential losses.
Paul Jakus and Sherzod Akhundjanov studied 20 counties near federally protected lands in five western states and found no evidence that a monument designation affected income in those counties.
Dr. Jakus said other development in these areas can create a net effect.
“You can go ahead and see there is going to be more development of a recreation, a service economy in areas surrounding these national monuments that basically just offsets, in terms of per capita income,” Dr. Jakus explained. “It offsets whatever losses are occurring in other industries.”
The two professors are part of USU’s Applied Economics department and Dr. Jakus said because communities throughout Utah are surrounded by public lands it has spurred their next project.
“What Sherzod and I are now doing is attempting to measure the value of public lands access in urban areas, that is where people live. We’re not quite ready to release our preliminary results yet, but we’re very encouraged by the results that we’re finding.”
Their research was recognized as the outstanding published research of 2019 by the Western Agricultural Economics Association.