Report: Towns need tax, policy tweaks to coexist with tourists

Close to 4 million visitors a year pass through West Yellowstone, hoping they won’t need an ambulance service supported by barely a thousand local taxpayers. 

Places like Whitefish and Bozeman have booming ski resorts, but no place where resort workers can afford to live. Those tourist-driven challenges might have tourist-paid solutions, according to a new report  by Headwaters Economics that examines the double-edged sword of benefits and burdens for communities known for their outdoor recreation amenities.

“More people and new development can put pressures on existing infrastructure and contribute to growing inequality, including dramatic increases in housing costs that force long-time residents out or into the crisis of homelessness,” the report stated. “Fiscal health, public discourse, and community well-being can be overcome with challenges. The paradox of a place with natural attractions that make it a great place to live but also threaten it with being ‘loved to death’ is what is known as the amenity trap.”

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In short, people across the U.S., especially the West, are increasingly visiting and moving to communities with outdoor recreation traits like forested public lands, trails, lakes, mountains and wildlife. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated

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