Debates over protecting public land reveal two views. Some argue protection reduces commodity production, reducing local employment and increasing out-migration. Others contend protection produces amenities that support job growth and attract migrants. We test these competing views for the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), which reallocated 11 million acres of federal land from timber production to protecting old-growth forest species. We find evidence that land protection directly reduced local employment growth and increased net migration. The total negative effect on employment was offset only slightly by positive migration-driven effects. Employment losses were concentrated in metropolitan counties, but percentage losses were higher in rural counties.