US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
You are here: Home / People / Profile


Michael in Glacier National Park

Michael Hand

Research Economist
800 East Beckwith
United States

Phone: 406-329-2136
Fax: 406-543-2663
Contact Michael Hand

Current Research

My current research focuses on how people and communities derive benefits and value from publically managed natural resources, and how public agencies allocate resources to manage the flow of ecosystem goods and services provided by public lands. This work is intended to provide guidance to managers on cost-effective ways to manage lands for multiple benefits, inform policy discussions about the economics of public lands management, and contribute to scientific advances in natural resource economics and public lands management fields.

Assessing the roles of forest ecosystem goods and services in sustaining well-being for households and communities
How do ecological changes affect the well-being of people who rely on forest ecosystem services? How do people make tradeoffs to access ecosystem services provided by public forests and adapt to changes in forest ecosystem services? This research area explores how people make economic decisions to access and derive benefits from ecosystem goods and services provided by publically managed forests. It seeks to better understand the socio-economic tradeoffs associated with natural resource management activities and how ecological changes will affect people who derive benefits from public lands.

Ongoing projects include:
  • Assessments of socio-economic vulnerability to ecological changes to National Forests in the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Southwest.
  • Examining the potential effects of climate change on the demand for National Forest recreation.
  • The role of National Forests in the Southwest region as an amenity in housing and labor markets.
The economics of wildfire management by public land management agencies
This research area investigates how public agencies allocate resources, make tradeoffs, and make decisions to manage risk and uncertainty when managing wildland fires. The goal of this research is to provide decision makers with information that can improve the cost effectiveness of wildfire management activities and aid in understanding how management decisions affect wildfire outcomes.

Ongoing projects include:
  • Examining spatial and temporal factors associated with wildfire management expenditures.
  • Empirical analysis of the effectiveness of suppression efforts for wildfire initial attack and large wildfire management.
  • Understanding risk perceptions and responses as factors in wildfire management decision making.

Research Interests

My broad research interests explore the intersection of the natural world with household economic activity and decisions, the role of natural landscapes in providing market and non-market benefits to households and communities, and the economics of managing forest disturbances (such as wildland fire) to maintain ecological values. These topics look at how households make economic decisions in relation to forests and other natural features, and how public managers allocate resources to achieve multiple land management objectives.

Why This Research is Important

Understanding how people behave and make economic decisions is a key element of management of public lands. People have varied demands for the goods and services provided by the nation's forests, make economic tradeoffs to access them, and adapt to ecological and management changes to improve well-being. Using economics and an understanding of human behavior and decision making can help managers anticipate how decisions affect people and communities, and can aid in the deisgn of programs and policies meant to sustain benefits provided by public lands for current and future generations of people.


  • University of New Mexico, Ph.D. Economics 2007
  • University of New Mexico, M.S. Economics 2005
  • University of Minnesota, B.S. Human Resources and Industrial Relations 2000

Professional Experience

  • Research Economist, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
    2011 - Current
  • Research Economist, USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural and Resource Economics Division
    2007 - 2011

Professional Organizations

  • White House Social And Behavioral Sciences Team, Fellow (2015 - Current)
    Translate findings from behavioral science fields to improve the benefits derived from Federal programs. Design and implement field trials of behaviorally informed interventions to Federal programs, with a focus on energy, environment, and natural resources applications.


Last updated on : 07/01/2020