There is a large and growing body of peer-reviewed research that examines the relationship between natural amenities, land conservation, and local / regional economic well-being. Building evidence shows that, on average, county economies with protected federal lands outperform those without. This relationship is thought to be true as it increases counties ability to recruit entrepreneurs, attract skilled workforce across a range of industries, and retain higher rates of job growth. Not to mention the quality of life benefits that have been associated with public lands including open spaces and the draw of scenic vistas that attract business to open their doors, outdoor lifestyles and natural assets.

Protected lands help drive economies.

Across Colorado and the West, protected federal lands such as national parks, monuments, and Wilderness areas are associated with higher rates of job growth. Headwaters Economics, an independent non-partisan research group found that from 1970 to 2010, western non-metropolitan counties with more than 30% federal protected land increased jobs by 345%. In comparison, non-metro counties with no protected federal lands employment only increased by 83%. 

Protected lands are good for your pocket too.

Headwaters Economics, also looked at the U.S. West’s 286 non-metro counties as a region, and found a meaningful relationship between the amount of protected public land and higher per capita income levels.

On average, western non-metro counties have a per capita income that is $436 higher for every 10,000 acres of protected federal lands within their boundaries. - “West Is Best: How Public Lands in the West Create a Competitive Economic Advantage

"There are not many places where you can establish a successful business and still have the opportunity to get out in the afternoon for a hike or bike ride.'

- Crested Butte News, Letter to the Editor 'Business Owners Talk Prosperity'

Protected landscapes are critical to the future success of small businesses and the growth of our local economy.  The GPLI has the endorsement of over 70 businesses who understand the importance of healthy public lands to their business.


Gunnison Public Lands Initiative understands the monetary value of public lands, but also knows the invaluable beauty and fortune it is to live in a place with clean air and water, and landscapes filled with diverse and healthy wildlife.