Thriving western rural communities are important to conservation as a whole. As the potential for increased population growth and available technologies change, rural communities benefit from creating a community vision, goals, and planning to proactively address changes ahead. The Rural Development (RD) program supports rural communities by providing technical assistance to identify a common vision and goals, while helping communities receive financial support to accomplish projects that they want to see in their future. The RD program addresses economic challenges in rural communities, especially in those of high conservation interest, by increasing access to USDA- Rural Development programs to bridge conservation, economic, and social values so that rural communities can bring about positive change in their own communities.
The RD program primarily focuses on access to the USDA- RD’s Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program by providing technical assistance, but there are other USDA and state rural development opportunities that the program can utilize to support rural communities in economic development, housing, infrastructure, and producer value-added needs. Vibrant and thriving rural communities improve quality of life, economic opportunities, and outdoor experiences for established residents, increasing the potential for and sustaining essential conservation initiatives.