Posted: Sep 22, 2012 5:29 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena
A new report claims that passing the Heritage Act will benefit local economies in Montana.
The report was commissioned by the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front after U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Heritage Act a year ago.
The proposal designates more than 200,000 acres of land as a conservation management area, and places nearly 70,000 acres into "wilderness" category.
The proposal has been met with controversy as some landowners have voiced concerns about how it will impact livestock grazing and oil and gas development.
The report states that passage of the bill would have no negative impacts on the local economies.
The study claims that if the Heritage Act is passed, the Front could see long-term economic benefits.
Chris Mehl of Headwaters Economics said, "What you are doing is protecting this area, you are keeping the habitat together so the outfitters have jobs, the hunters are pulling tags, and the locals have meat in the freezer, and they are out enjoying themselves and you are getting that out of state money staying in hotels and restaurants."
Mehl says the study looked at three counties: Lewis & Clark, Teton, and Cascade.
He says the Rocky Mountain Front region has experienced slow and steady economic growth in recent years but is poised for future improvement.