Rural Development

Heart of the Rockies Initiative is excited to announce a new Rural Development Pilot Program.

“Thriving rural communities and working lands are essential to sustaining natural resource conservation.” Erin Farris-Olsen, Rural Development Director for the Heart of the Rockies Initiative.

The Heart of the Rockies Rural Development Program has been developed to support rural development in western Montana and its communities that are facing changes in land use, wildlife populations, weather, and economic stability.

Our goals for this program are to deliver more access to USDA Rural Development, Montana Department of Commerce, and additional economic programs and resources to benefit western Montana communities. By marketing and implementing rural development programs in high conservation interest areas, we will work to bridge the gap between conservation, economic, and social values. The Heart of the Rockies Rural Development Program is starting out as a pilot project, that, if successful, could transfer to communities throughout Montana and the West.

“USDA Rural Development is excited to have the Heart of the Rockies and other conservation interests join existing partners to help rural towns access more business, community infrastructure, and housing funding opportunities through our programs,”  said Charles Robison, USDA Rural Development Montana State Director.

Erin Farris-Olsen, our Rural Development Program Director, will be identifying up to five priority communities for direct assistance in 2019. In addition to assisting priority communities, Farris-Olsen will be actively delivering rural development resource information to our existing conservation networks, including, land trust associations, watershed groups, and conservation districts.

We’re excited about the opportunity to draw a more visible connection between economic vitality and innovative community-based landscape conservation and welcome your thoughts and ideas along the way.

For more information, contact Erin Farris-Olsen