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Protected Area Designation, Natural Amenities, and Rural Development of Forested Counties in the Continental United States

Kent Kovacs, Robert G. Haight and Grant West

Growth and Change, 2017, vol. 48, issue 4, 611-639

Abstract: Policy makers who wish to spur economic development in rural forests face challenges that include population decline and poverty. Protected land and natural amenities enhance the quality of life and prospects for economic development, but there is limited research on how different types of protected land or natural amenities affect the rural forest economy. We use county level variables for protected areas differentiated by access and extractive use, and natural amenities differentiated by climate, water area, and topography to explain spatial variation in labor and built space markets. Results show that temperate summers and water area increase wages and housing prices and explain more than 30 percent of the spatial differences in wages, housing price, employment density, built space percent, human capital, and local road density. Protected area decreases wages, but, if open access, increase housing prices and human capital and explain more than 20 percent of the spatial differences in human capital, built space percent, and local road density.

Date: 2017
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