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Original Article

Understanding the Economic Impact of Wild Horse Management on Local Communities



The United States has substantial public lands owned and managed by the US federal government. The economic impact of those lands has been repeatedly demonstrated by numerous studies. In parts of the Western United States managing these lands has included legislative action by the United States Congress to assist previously devastated populations of wildlife, including wild horses. The management practices used to protect Wild horses have led to large population increases and that have caused significant issues throughout the regions where they are managed. We examine the areas where Wild Horse Management Areas (HMA) are present to estimate the effects of these management practices on local economies. Using data from 1980 to 2005 we estimate a time regression that shows a negative relationship between the presence of Wild Horse Management Areas and overall wages paid to employees and tax receipts received by local governments. Further we find that despite indication of some positive effects of federal land protection those positive effects are overwhelmed by the negative effects of a HMA in counties where they are present. It is clear that the Federal Agencies in charge these management practices made decisions based on their own needs or goals that ultimately impact the county’s that are home to these lands.