Ray Rasker, the Director of the Socioeconomics Program of the Sonoran Institute, presented findings from a study on the role of protected public lands in western economies on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 in a public lecture sponsored by the Natural Resources Law Center and the Center of the American West. (Click here for a PDF of the study.) Dr. Rasker also visited several classes at the University of Colorado, including Professor Sarah Krakoff's law school seminar on "Natural Resource Laws for the Economies of the New West." "Everyone who cares about the West should know about the Sonoran Institute's study," commented Professor Krakoff, "it lays to rest the myth that the West is solely dependent on resource extraction, and presents instead a complex picture of the ways that our landscapes and lifestyles are the real drivers of the economy." At Dr. Rasker's public lecture, Professor Patricia Limerick provided a response that put the economic study in historical context. Professor Limerick, Director of the Center of the American West, also awarded Dr. Rasker with a "Sustainable Hero" certificate.Rasker is the Director of the SocioEconomics Program of the Sonoran Institute (SI), a nonprofit organization that promotes community-based strategies for conservation and development. He has written numerous articles on public land management, wildlife economics, and the changing economy of the West; he frequently lectures on these topics at universities and conferences. He also conducts workshops to help communities produce their own socioeconomic profiles, understand economic realities and identify opportunities for environmentally-compatible forms of economic development. Rasker also holds an adjunct position at Montana State University in the Earth Sciences Department. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the College of Forestry, Oregon State University, a Masters of Agriculture from Colorado State University, and a Bachelors of Science from the University of Washington.