Economic Importance of National Monuments to Communities


Consisting of data from 2011, 2014, and 2017, this report found that local economies surrounding 17 national monuments expanded after the creation of new national monuments. The reports look at trends in important economic indicators to access growth in communities adjacent to the national monuments studied. While the results  from the 17 national monuments studied do not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship, the findings show 13 of the national monuments grew at the same rate or faster than similar communities in their state, and four grew at a slower rate compared to similar communities in their state.


In 2011, 2014, and 2017 Headwaters Economics selected 17 national monuments in the western United States that are larger than 10,000 acres and created between 1982 and 2001. Avoiding smaller monuments allows for an analysis of the economic indicators before and after designation. The indicators used include population, employment, personal income, and per capita income growth.

Related Methods

Demography is the study of the characteristics of human populations, such as size, growth, density, and distribution. Demographic analysis provides insights into the links between these characteristics and the cultural, economic, geographic, and other social attributes present in a given area.

Discussion of Results

The trends in economic indicators either continued steady or improved in each of the regions surrounding the 17 national monuments studied. Per capita income was shown to increase which is important since rural areas tend to show average earnings are often declining. The 2017 analysis compares the economic performance starting from the turn of the century to similar benchmark counties. The study found no evidence that these national monuments prevented economic growth to the surrounding communities. Each national monument has a two page summary of specific economic details.