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The Rural West Initiative

The Rural West Initiative explores issues of the less populated areas of the North American West – places whose natural beauty and heritage are matched only by the challenges they face. These issues, such as access to economic opportunity, health care, education, and housing, often get less attention than they deserve.

Through research and conferences, we seek to join and energize a conversation between journalists and scholars, citizens, nongovernmental groups and policymakers, about a region that still holds powerful sway over our national imagination and our future.

Each year since 2012, the project has convened the Eccles Rural West Conference to share knowledge and ideas about the Rural West. The most recent conference, held in Missoula in March 2016, considered a wide range of topics from federal land management to tribal issueshousing and homelessness, and health care, among others. It also featured the release of a statewide survey of Montanans on key issues addressed at the conference, and featured a keynote address by Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

The next Rural West Conference will be taking place in New Mexico in the spring of 2017. More details will be forthcoming.


We are grateful for the generous support of the Spencer F. & Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation.