Is National Monument Designation an Economic Blessing or an Economic Curse?
Designation of national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act has long been controversial. Some argue that National Monument status imposes land use restrictions that stifle economic growth and cause social disruption, especially restrictions on in situ industries such as ranching, forestry, and mining. Others contend that any losses in these industries are more than made up by growth in the recreation economy. We use the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) of southern Utah as a case study to examine the economic consequences of monument designations. The 1.7 million acre GSENM remains controversial more than 20 years after its designation; the Garfield county commission recently declared a “state of emergency”, blaming GSENM for the loss of multiple-use of federal land. We apply econometric methods to examine changes in county-level economic structure that may be due to GSENM designation.