Economic and Social Impact Assessment of Ranching on Public Lands: A Guide to Concepts, Methods, and Applications

  • Amanda L Bentley Brymer University of Idaho
  • David T. Taylor University of Wyoming
  • J.D. Wulfhorst University of Idaho
  • L. Allen Torell New Mexico State University
  • Neil R. Rimbey University of Idaho
  • John A. Tanaka University of Wyoming
Keywords: economic impact analysis, social impact assessment, resource amenities, adaptation, landscape scale, social structures


In the American West, rural communities often experience direct social and economic impacts related to policy changes affecting livestock grazing on federal public lands.  Local economies and social structures (e.g., personal and professional networks among community members) remain tied to expenditures from livestock producers in ways that affect the overall well-being of a community.  Resident and non-resident users of public lands also benefit from other aspects of working landscapes, such as open space that supports wildlife habitat and rural lifestyles and livelihoods.  Social impacts associated with federal lands grazing also include ways communities experience governance through contemporary patterns of litigation and collaboration. For communities facing natural resource management challenges, social and economic issues are often co-analyzed. This manuscript combines insights from economic and social impact assessments to guide their implementation for public lands and rangelands management. After reviewing examples of common concepts, methods, and applications for regional economic analyses and social impact assessments, we present a case study from Owyhee County, Idaho to elaborate on examples of sociological impacts from changes to public lands management policy. Opportunities for management and research on economic and social impact

Author Biographies

Amanda L Bentley Brymer, University of Idaho
Postdoctoral Researcher, Environmental Science
David T. Taylor, University of Wyoming
Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
J.D. Wulfhorst, University of Idaho
Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Society
L. Allen Torell, New Mexico State University
Professor Emeritus, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness  (Publish posthumously)
Neil R. Rimbey, University of Idaho
Professor Emeritus, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology
John A. Tanaka, University of Wyoming
Associate Director, Agricultural Experiment Station and Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
How to Cite
Bentley Brymer, A. L., Taylor, D. T., Wulfhorst, J., Torell, L. A., Rimbey, N. R., & Tanaka, J. A. (2018). Economic and Social Impact Assessment of Ranching on Public Lands: A Guide to Concepts, Methods, and Applications. Journal of Rangeland Applications, 4. Retrieved from