Abundant public lands are being credited for the strong economies in western states like Wyoming. A report issued yesterday by Headwaters Economics examines job opportunities, income and population changes in Wyoming and other western states against a backdrop of National Forests, parks and other public spaces. Researcher Ben Alexander says most states are seeing their economies diversifying now with strong growth in health care and high-tech, and they found a direct connection to public lands as a recruiting asset. However, Alexander points out that around most of Wyoming, the economies are still largely focused on minerals extraction. Alexander says there are some pockets around Laramie, around Jackson Hole, of course, and around Sheridan, where you do see economies that more diverse, or not entirely dependent on energy resources. …and while Wyoming is very energy focused, it has enjoyed a success that is enviable, and has also set money aside should times get tough. Alexander says thanks to the abundant public lands out west, western states have seen their economies fare better than states elsewhere over the past 40 years.