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. This is why the Bill Lane Center has made it a priority to study rural communities in the first place. How did we initially approach the difficulties faced by rural areas? First we listened, then we presented research on the problems, and now we are finding solutions. 

The Rural West Initiative is made possible by generous support from the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Foundation.

Air Quality in Rural Areas

In 2017, Center research on air pollution in the West observed that while nitrogen and sulfur oxide levels have decreased, particulate matter levels have increased because of more frequent droughts and wildfires. Continuing this work, our research seeks to identify ways to make rural populations (and vulnerable populations, in particular) more resilient to deteriorating air quality.

field in foreground, snow on mountains in background. Baker County Oregon.

Why Study the Rural West?

The Bill Lane Center for the American West’s Rural West Initiative, first launched in 2009,  is an interdisciplinary project that brings together scholars and practitioners from across the region, creating a network of individuals and organizations who examine rural western life through scholarship, public policy, and journalism. 

Telecommunications infrastructure in the bush is vital to delivering quality telehealth services.

Digital Health in the Rural West

Delivering health care services through a range of telecommunication technologies allows providers to offer both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (store and forward) forms of care to the region’s diffuse and disparate populations.