MTPR

Business For Montana's Outdoors

About 200 people attended the festival's business panel at the Wilma Theater in Missoula
Eric Whitney

Groups promoting the economic value of public lands in Montana held their third annual Last Best Outdoors Fest event to get their message out in Missoula yesterday.

The event brought bands, beer and information booths to Caras Park downtown, and a panel of business leaders to speak at the Wilma theatre.

"We aren’t just a place you can come visit, but we’re a place that you can come make a living," said Evan Tipton, who was on the panel.

A coalition of wildlife, conservation and outdoor recreation business groups in Montana has announced it’s launching a survey to determine support and strategies to fund conservation and access projects.

A bird's eye view of the southern reaches of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio


A coalition of wildlife, conservation and outdoor recreation business groups has launched an effort to find ways to fund conservation and maintenance projects on public lands.

Eric Melson says the Montana Outdoor Heritage Project is trying to hear from 10,000 Montanans on what they value about the state’s public lands and outdoor recreation, and how those values should be funded.

Montana's outdoor recreation activities.
Outdoor Recreation And Montana's Economy report, Headwaters Economics.

A growing set of business owners, non-profits and agencies in Montana are trying to expand what we think of when we talk about the economic value of the outdoors here.

Marne Hayes is the executive director for Business for Montana’s Outdoors, a group that advocates for preserving Montana’s outdoor heritage. She says Montana itself — its rivers, forests and wide open spaces — offers a competitive advantage for attracting new businesses and a talented workforce to Montana.

Mandy Mohler started Field Guide Designs after spending a week in the Bob Marshall photographing items she found in the Spruce Park Cabin. She says her business wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Montana's public lands.
Nicky Ouellet

For the past two decades, Montanans have been making more money, creating more jobs and  increasing investment and retirement income in the state. What’s the cause for all this growth? Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics Research says it has to do with the best asset in the last best state: public lands.

"Rural counties around the West that have a lot of federal land have faster growth in population, faster growth in employment, and faster growth in personal income," Rasker says.

Glacier National Park entrance sign.
Flickr user photommo (CC-BY-ND)

President Donald Trump Thursday proposed a 12 percent cut to the Interior Department's 2018 budget. And national park advocates like Phil Francis are not happy about it: