More than 100 economists have sent a letter to President Obama and Congress, calling for investment in public lands infrastructure along with more protected designations to help local economies grow. Ray Rasker with Bozeman-based Headwaters Economics says years of research show there's a strong connection between economic prosperity and natural landscapes.

The letter was coordinated by Headwaters Economics, and notes that public lands in Montana and throughout the West boost economies because of resource extraction, as well as recreation and tourism. The letter stresses that investments in education are important, too, and that economic success tied to newly-protected public lands takes time.

A copy of the letter and supporting research at www.headwaterseconomics.org.

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