Posted: Sep 22, 2012 6:48 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Sep 24, 2012 1:57 PM
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. Sen. 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.
Some landowners have said the plan would inhibit livestock grazing and oil and gas development, but the new report states that passage of the bill would have no negative impacts on the local economies and the Rocky Mountain Front could see long-term economic benefits.
"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," Chris Mehl of Headwaters Economics said.."
Mehl says the study looked at three counties: Lewis and Clark, Teton, and Cascade.
He added the Rocky Mountain Front region has experienced slow and steady economic growth in ecent years but is poised for future improvement.