New Episode of Resources Radio: "Do National Monuments Help or Hinder Local Economies?, with Margaret Walls"


March 24, 2020

News Type

Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Resources for the Future (RFF) today released a new installment of Resources Radio: “ Do National Monuments Help or Hinder Local Economies?, with Margaret Walls.”

In this episode, host Daniel Raimi talks with Margaret Walls, a senior fellow at RFF and an expert on public lands and conservation policy. Walls discusses a recent study she coauthored, published in the latest volume of Science Advances, which has generated widespread coverage in outlets such as Popular Science, Gizmodo, and Inverse. Contrary to the conventional narrative that national monuments hurt local economies, the research from Walls and colleagues finds that new monument designations have no discernible impact on the mining, livestock, grazing, and forestry sectors; on average, monuments even create new jobs and businesses in surrounding areas.

Listen here.

Notable quotes from the podcast:

  • National monuments create jobs and businesses: “Our central result is that … there is about a 10 percent increase in the number of establishments and about an 8 percent increase in the number of jobs in the areas directly around the monuments. We didn’t find any effect at all on average wage incomes in those areas … an important finding, because one of the things that you hear a lot from folks is … that we’re generating low-wage service sector jobs that don’t pay very well, and we don’t find any evidence of that.” (12:14)
  • Impacts of monuments on industry: “We looked at the effect [of national monument designations] on mining, livestock, grazing, and forestry, and we grouped those together. The reason we looked at those particular sectors is that those sectors in that region depend heavily on public lands … When we look at them together, we find no effect—either positive or negative—on jobs in those sectors.” (14:53)
  • Value of national monuments beyond the marketplace: “Why are we designating these places in the first place? They are to protect resources, cultural resources, historic resources, artifacts—things that we think have value, but not in the marketplace … I think we need to remember why we set up the Antiquities Act to preserve national monuments in the first place. I’m not saying that it’s not important to look at jobs and economic activity. Absolutely it is, but I think we also need to think about the broader set of values that these places have.” (20:13)

Resources Radio is a weekly podcast series exploring timely environmental, energy, and natural resources topics. Episodes can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Its mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. RFF is committed to being the most widely trusted source of research insights and policy solutions leading to a healthy environment and a thriving economy.

Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and may differ from those of other RFF experts, its officers, or its directors. RFF does not take positions on specific legislative proposals.

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