“Lessons from the Rural West” - A Report

CWT News

May 11, 2018

We were thrilled to be one of 39 Western advocates, academics, and landowners interviewed for "Lessons from the Rural West", a report produced for The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation by M+R. The report sought to define how to best advance conservation with rural communities through the West. The top four takeaways are:

  1. Rural Westerners value conservation because they know their livelihood depends on it
  2. Messaging and outreach should embrace the values, culture, and tone of a specific place
  3. Don’t start with a solution
  4. Rural conservation should be personal – not political

We learned some of these lessons first hand as we began to develop our project on the Crystal River a few years ago. We came to the local agricultural community with a proposed solution to restore flows to the river and quickly discovered that we had a lot to learn. After taking a step back and listening to the ranchers' concerns, we were able to develop a new collaborative approach that meets both the ranchers' needs and the river's needs. You can learn more about our project on the Crystal River here.

Agriculture uses the largest amount of water in Colorado and is the economic backbone for many rural communities, making partnerships with ranchers and farmers essential to our mission to restore flows to rivers in need. As we aim to put more projects on the ground with agricultural partners, like our project on the Crystal River, these lessons learned will be incredibly important. 

Read the full report here.