Commission to consider approval of socioeconomic supplement
February 17, 2022
The commissioners are set to decide whether to officially approve the county’s new socioeconomic supplement after a public hearing on March 1. The supplement will be attached to the recently adopted Natural Resource Management Plan with a focus on the impact of natural resources on the health of Crook County.
Prepared by DJ&A of Missoula, the supplement was funded by the state through the same program that was used to create the natural resource management plan itself. Like the plan, the supplement can be used in the future to negotiate with federal entities and to pursue potential grants.
The original intent was to investigate how four specific industries and the service industries that support them have influenced growth and economic stability in Crook County, which is highly reliant on natural resources through the four industries that characterize its economy: agriculture, recreation/tourism, timber harvesting and the mining and fossil fuel industries.
Making use of the state program in order to perform the study was suggested last March by Commissioner Jeanne Whalen in direct response to the potential for the U.S. Forest Service to make drastic reductions in the timber sale limits within Crook County.
A third of the jobs within this county in 2018 relied on one of these four industries.
The supplement investigates how demographics including age, education and income reflect the influence of these natural resource industries, as well as the impact of the same industries in neighboring counties.
Additionally, the supplement details the impact of infrastructure, or lack thereof. For example, it looks at broadband availability – such as available broadband.
It also explores how the county has been impacted by the diversity of natural resource-based industries and the effect of recreation and tourism trends, as well as how changes in policy and management for public lands affects the four industries.
The supplement makes suggestions to promote economic resilience in the future, such as to leverage natural amenities including the county’s “small towns with beautiful landscapes and access to outdoor recreation” to attract tourism and new residents or entrepreneurs that can help diversify the economy.
The supplement was approved by Crook County Land Use in December, after which it was forwarded to the county commission for a final decision. This will take place during the regular monthly meeting on March 1 at 2:30 p.m.