USU professors eye impact of West’s national monuments

Studies of the regional economic impacts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument led USU researchers to expand their work to include counties near nine other national monuments. The resulting paper was recognized as the Western Agricultural Economics Association's Outstanding Published Research of 2019. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.

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.

Paul Jakus studies natural resource and regional economics with a focus on public lands. Photo courtesy of Utah State University

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.”

Sherzod Akhundjanov applies econometrics and statistical analysis to environmental questions. Photo courtesy of Utah State University

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.

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  • BearLakeismyHeaven July 26, 2020 at 8:44 pm Reply

    Take familyI to Bear Lake for one week each year for 40 years. I buy my groceries there and we eat out there. Nothing brought from home. That is my riule. We love this beautiful place and want to contribute to their economy.

    • Don July 27, 2020 at 9:47 am Reply

      Great story, BLIMH.

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