Amenity migration and public lands: Rise of the protected areas

  • Authors: Hjerpe, Evan; Hussain, Anwar; Holmes, Thomas
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
  • Source: Environmental Management
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00267-020-01293-6


Rural amenity migration, or the relocation for quality of life purposes as opposed to monetary enhancement, has been occurring for decades and has been particularly pronounced in the American West where the phenomenon peaked in the 1990s. Researchers have illustrated that some places are more attractive for migrants than others and that certain regional amenities hold considerable influence on where migrants relocate. Increased migration levels typically result in increased economic growth indicators, making amenity migration an attractive rural development strategy. But comprehensive econometric analysis focused on amenity migration in the American West has been lacking. To address this, we conducted an econometric analysis of attributes that influenced migration to rural Western counties from 1980 to 2010. Over 20 potential amenity supply categories were collated for 356 rural counties from 11 Western states, with a focus on public lands. Descriptive statistics and OLS regressions were estimated and interpreted. Traditional amenities of climate, water area, and regional access were highly associated with migration levels, while designated natural amenities of Wilderness and National Monuments were the most influential public lands for migration to rural Western counties. Farming and oil and gas dependency were negatively associated with migration levels. Increasing the amount of protected areas, and branding campaigns based on natural amenities, can be a critical development strategy for rural communities.

  • Citation: Hjerpe, Evan; Hussain, Anwar; Holmes, Thomas. 2020. Amenity migration and public lands: Rise of the protected areas. Environmental Management. 66(1): 56-71.
  • Keywords: Amenity migration, Protected areas, Outdoor recreation, Public lands, Designated natural amenity
  • Posted Date: June 3, 2020
  • Modified Date: June 4, 2020
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