- The goals of the Wilderness Act of 1964 include the preservation of wilderness areas (areas where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain”) and to afford the public opportunities for solitude and recreation. Thus, the wilderness designation brings these lands into the realm of influencing the quality of life experienced in adjacent and surrounding local communities. A study of 113 rural counties in the American West, 43% containing designated wilderness areas, shows that for the period 1970 to 2000 there is a significant positive correlation between the percent of land in designated wilderness and population, income and employment growth.
- The correlation between designated wilderness area and population, income and employment growth is strongest for counties not adjacent to metropolitan areas.
- While tourism created by wilderness areas can attract job growth in lower paying service sector jobs, growth in higher paying professional service jobs and some natural resource extraction categories was higher in wilderness counties than in non-wilderness counties.
- Wilderness designation promotes, rather than limits growth, and may promote demographic and economic growth at rates that can jeopardize the natural resources.
- The growth of investment income and nonfarm self-employment income are correlated with the presence of wilderness.
Last modified by Nate Lotze