The outdoors is big business in montana

A healthy outdoors fuels Montana’s economy

  • Montana’s outdoor assets include 33.8 million acres of public land

  • Our outdoor economy generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports 71,000 jobs

  • 96% of Montanans believe the outdoor recreation economy is important to the economic future of the state

  • 20.6 million visitors to Montana public land contributed to expenditures resulting in 17,000 jobs

  • A 2018 survey of high tech and manufacturing companies in Montana found that our quality of life - “our lifestyle, recreational opportunities, and the beauty of the landscape” - is the most frequently mentioned advantage to doing business in the state

western businesses support LWCF reauthorization

Wilderness, public lands matter to Montanans

  • 87% of Montanans cite conservation-related issues involving clean water, clean air, open spaces and public lands as very important when considering the records of their elected officials

  • 82% of Montanans overwhelmingly say public lands help their economy

  • Voters across the state view national public lands as beneficial to Montana's economy

University of Montana Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative, full results

Conservation in the west poll:
8th annual survey of voters in western states

voters care about conservation and the economy

  • 82% of Montanans classify themselves as conservationists, 87% as outdoor recreation enthusiasts

  • 96% of Montanans believe that the outdoor recreation economy is important to the economic future of the state

  • 64% of Montanans oppose removing protections for national monuments, and 45% disagree with the way the Administration is handling issues related to land, water, and wildlife.

2018 Conservation in the West Poll

2017 Conservation in the West Poll

Montana Specific Data

Public Opinion Strategies:
Montana Business Survey

Research Highlights

  • 70% of business owners say “the Montana outdoor lifestyle” was a factor in deciding to locate or expand their business in Montana. This topped the list of factors, outranking other factors including tax rates, access to raw materials, utility costs, quality health care, access to high speed internet, and airline service

  • Young business owners and owners of growing businesses were most likely to say that public lands were a factor in locating their businesses in Montana

  • 73% of business owners say we can protect land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs

  • 89% say national parks, forests and wildlife areas are an essential part of Montana’s economy

Research Fact Sheet

Montana Business Survey

Survey Infographic

Outdoor Industry Association:
Our outdoor recreation Economy


  • Every year, the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending, providing 7.6 million direct jobs and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue

  • In Montana, outdoor recreation generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending, creates 71,000 direct Montana jobs, and generates $2.2 billion in wages and salaries for Montanans

  • Preserving access to outdoor recreation protects the economy, the businesses, the communities and the people who depend on the ability to access and utilize our outdoor spaces. These public lands are essential to maintaining our business and economic advantage, and to maintaining our diversified economy

U.S. Outdoor Recreation Economy

Montana's Outdoor Recreation Economy

Headwater Economics:
Trends and performance of Montana's economy

montana's economy, public lands, and competitive advantage:

  • A report summarizing Montana's economy, analyzing recent growth and what is driving its performance, including a description of how federal lands help attract people, investment, and businesses 

Report: The role of public lands in Montana's economy

Haymakers Report: research highlights

  • Montana is growing and outperforming the rest of the nation in terms of employment, personal income, and precept income growth

  • A mix of service industries are leading Montana’s job growth, diversifying the state’s economy

  • During the last four decades, western non-metro counties with significant protected federal land added jobs more than 4x faster than peers without protected federal land

  • Montana is seeing an increase in non-labor income, earnings, and per capita income

Haymakers Report

Haymakers Infographic

Today's Economy & The role of federal lands

  • Economic role of federal lands

  • Economic context across the U.S. and the West

  • The role of wildlife, ecosystems, scenery, recreation, and community development with respect to federal lands

Today's Economy & Federal Lands

The Value of Public Lands

West is best: Research Highlights

  • The West’s popular national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public ands offer its growing high-tech and services industries a competitive advantage, a crucial reason why the western economy has outperformed the rest of the US economy in key measures of growth – employment, population, and personal income – during the last four decades

  • Protected federal public lands support faster rates of job growth and are correlated with higher levels of per capital income

  • Montana’s economy is growing and outperforming the broader US economy; from 2000-2010, Montana’s population grew by 10%, employment by 12%, per capita income by 18% and real personal income by 29%. This growth was driven by higher quality jobs and a rapid growth of investment and retirement income

  • People are drawn to Montana for its remarkable quality of life and natural amenities, bringing investment income and business connections to the larger world

  • Montana is attracting people and investment, while creating businesses faster than the US; from 2000 to 2009, Montana created roughly 4,500 net new businesses, and the number of businesses per 1,000 people grew by 6%. Comparatively in the US, over the same time period the number of business per 1,000 people shrank by 3%

  • Economists believe protected federal lands are an important driver of economic growth. Across Montana and the west, protected federal lands such as National Parks and Wilderness are associated with higher rates of job growth, charting a 345% increase in jobs for those areas with more than 30% federally protected public lands

Protected Lands Promote Jobs and Higher Incomes

Research Summary Graphic

Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity

Montana continues to lead the nation in entrepreneurial activity

 Kauffman Index Rankings Report



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