What’s an Amenity Trap?

May 19, 2022

When staff from Headwaters Economics approached our GVLT NextGen Advisory Board to collaborate on an event called “The Amenity Trap,” we all had the same question: What the heck is an amenity trap?

“The more a community’s amenities draw visitors and new residents, the more proactive the community must be to avoid being loved to death,” says Headwaters Economist Megan Lawson, Ph.D. “We call this the “amenity trap” and places like Bozeman can pursue strategies to mitigate its effect on the community and landscape.”

Headwaters Economics is an independent, nonprofit research group that works to improve community development and land management decisions. For years, the Headwaters team has conducted quantitative, data-driven research steeped in natural amenities and understanding the implementation and effects of policies. The Gallatin Valley boasts of natural amenities including easy access to public lands, countless miles of trails, open space, clean water, and fresh air.

“We look at policies in similar communities, learn how they were implemented, and how the policies have shaped the community over the years,” says Dr. Lawson. “We’ve focused on the challenges on infrastructure, such as the impacts on overly crowded trailheads.”

The research being presented in the Amenity Trap event entailed reviewing policies in cities like Durango, Colorado; Blowing Rock, North Carolina; and Winter Park, Colorado. “No community is exactly like Bozeman, and no place has perfect solutions,” says Dr. Lawson. “But all communities can learn from one another.”

“Often, these discussions about growth involve fear of change or even a sense of hopelessness,” says Emmiliese Von Avis, member of the GVLT NextGen Advisory Board. “Our goal with this Amenity Trap event is to have a more solution-focused conversation. We want people to realize that we’re not alone and we’re not doomed – there’s so much great work happening already.”

With the help of Headwaters Economics and our guest presenters City Commissioner Christopher Coburn and HRDC’s Lila Fleishman, this event will provide the audience with tools – information, action items, and practice having productive discussions – to engage on the topic of growth in Bozeman.

“Our hope is that our research is useful, actionable, and engaging,” says Dr. Lawson. “We want community members that attend the Amenity Trap presentation to leave with concreate ideas about how to get involved and contribute to solutions in our community.”

Interested in attending the Amenity Trap event on June 8? Click here!