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Conserving Lands and Prosperity: Cody, Wyo., A Case Study

Pronghorn Antelope. Image courtesy Laura Meadows.

Cody has a diverse economy that has been buttressed through the years by tourism, hunting, angling and wildlife watching driven by access to abundant public lands. The report "Conserving Lands and Prosperity" singles out Cody, a community that has maintained a balance between commodity production, ranching on public lands and conserving large public tracts to provide hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities. Conservation has boosted the economy through direct spending by tourists, hunters, anglers and others and has enhanced the area’s appeal to businesses and professionals seeking a high quality of life.

Some of the key findings:

Cody’s economy is diverse, with four different sectors each accounting for at least 10 percent of total employment in 2009. The four sectors are health care and social assistance, retail trade, construction, and accommodations and food service.
About 10 percent of Cody’s jobs are associated with direct spending on fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.

Park County’s overall employment approximately has doubled since 1969, and the number of small businesses has increased by more than 250 percent.

Conclusions:

Natural resource development has been and will continue to be important to Cody’s economic health. Employment in some of the commodity production on public lands has been cyclical and the jobs and revenue generated by people fishing, hunting and recreating on public lands have helped expand the economic base. The natural amenities have served as a magnet for people looking for a high-quality lifestyle and businesses hoping to draw people to the area. The diverse economy, a buffer against downturns, is dependent in part on the surrounding public lands.

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