The Western Rural Development Center's Area Sector Analysis Process is a tool to help communities achieve targeted, sustainable economic development. ASAP was designed by researchers and Extension Specialists from throughout the western U.S. to use in collaboration with rural community leaders to promote economic development. The process is based on the understanding that sustainable community development strategies should reflect the preferences of community residents and also the extent to which community assets can meet the operational needs of businesses that allow them to be successful.
The Western Rural Development Center's National Extension Climate Initiative serves to link climate change-related education and research across Extension program areas and Associations. This effort is open to all Extension professionals. Initiated by Paul Lachapelle, Montana State University, in collaboration with Chris Jones, University of Arizona, and with support from the Western Rural Development Center, this initiative aims to increase multi-state collaboration on research and outreach efforts, and to address the need for national Extension education materials that are adaptable by a state and/or region as it pertains to climate crisis education.
The Western Rural Development Center's Western Extension Community Development Working Group was formed to share best practices; discuss emerging regional issues; identify gaps in research and outreach; identify topics and funding sources to pursue multi-state grant funding and then create and submit grant proposals; identify members of the work group to research and publish briefs on relevant, regional topics to be published by the WRDC; develop and deliver online training modules on community development topics useful to those working in Extension and across disciplines; and develop materials on community development response, resiliency, and rebuilding during and following a pandemic.
Nearly one million square miles (55%) of the land in the western United States is managed by the Federal Government. More than 90% of federally owned land in the U.S. is in the 13 western states. In recent years, federal land management decisions in the region have been prominent and divisive. The Western Rural Development Center’s Federal Land Use Management and Planning Initiative seeks to address this issue by researching and disseminating scientifically-sound and politically-neutral information, gain an increased understanding of the views of various populations, and make available this information to its stakeholders. Currently, the Western Rural Development Center is working with researchers at Utah State University to develop a comprehensive GIS database on all land west of the 98th meridian in the continental United States. This data will allow the Center and researchers to explore the consequences and opportunities of various land management approaches.