Stories and Reports

Colorado River
In Crisis

Stories and Reports

The Western
Energy Boom

Stories and Reports

Health Care in
the Rural West

Historical Background

The Country Life Commission

Dear Visitor: This site preserves the legacy publications of the Rural West Initiative from 2009-2014. 
For more recent information on our conference and publications, please go to ruralwest.stanford.edu

A Collaboration Between Journalists and Scholars

The Rural West Initiative aims to create a unique collaboration between journalists and scholars to investigate the forces transforming the rural west.  We are generating reports and stories ourselves and will commission more from reporters, scholars, researchers, and students across the West. Our work uses extensive data visualization as well as text, video, and still photography to tell our stories.
 

Featured Interactives

 

Data Visualization

Journalism's Voyage West

Latest Posts

Eccles Family Rural West Conference, April 2019

An exploration of how amenity migration and tourism have reshaped rural communities in the American West. Affordability, culture clashes, political divides, and environmental issues will be considered.

More information is available at the conference website: http://ruralwest.stanford.edu/conference/2019

John McChesney, Chronicler of the Rural West

John McChesney in front of a Cheyenne-area well pad in September 2011

John McChesney in front of a Cheyenne-area well pad in September 2011, as part of the production of the Center’s documentary, “An Unquiet Landscape.   Geoff McGhee

The Center is deeply saddened to report that our friend and former colleague, John McChesney, passed away on the evening of Tuesday, June 5 in Santa Rosa.

The director of our Rural West Initiative from 2010-12 and the organizer of our very first Eccles Family Rural West Conference in Salt Lake City, John was a widely experienced journalist who spent three decades at National Public Radio, covering national politics, foreign affairs, and later the tech industry in Silicon Valley in the 1990s and 2000s.

During his time with the Center, John traveled extensively in Wyoming and North Dakota, gathering stories of profound change driven by the hydraulic fracturing boom and the energy industry that it brought to previously bucolic and remote areas. John worked with Stanford students and Center staff to produce a number of multimedia reports, from our “Cow Town to Boom Town” series of oral histories to “An Unquiet Landscape,” a 30-minute documentary on the energy boom, and “The New Western Fugitives,” a report on the growth of ozone precursors affecting the air quality of rural western communities.

Last modified Fri, 29 Mar, 2019 at 10:02

Eccles Family Rural West Conference, March 2018

The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University will be hosting the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Rural West Conference from March 22-23, 2018 in Yakima, Washington.

More information is available at the conference website: http://ruralwest.stanford.edu/conference/2018

Eccles Family Rural West Conference, March 2017

The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University will be hosting the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Rural West Conference from March 23-25, 2017 at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.

More information is available at the conference website: http://ruralwest.stanford.edu/conference/2017/home

Videos and More Materials from 2016 Conference Are Now Available

Clockwise from left: panel page with video, photos, and supporting materials; charts from Montana survey analysis page; and Montana Public Radio coverage of the poll.

We are pleased to announce that videos and supporting materials from the 2016 conference sessions are now available on our updated keynote and panel pages

Also, we now have some interactive charts in the preliminary analysis of the Rural West Montana survey designed by Christopher Muste, who recently talked with Montana Public Radio about his findings.

Last modified Fri, 29 Mar, 2019 at 10:32

Eccles Family Rural West Conference, March 2016

The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University is happy to announce that the next Eccles Family Rural West Conference will be held March 17-19 in Missoula, Montana.

Registration, schedule and travel information will be available by early 2016. Please check this page for future updates. In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact John J. Dougherty at jdougher@stanford.edu.

We look forward to seeing you in 2016!

More information is available at the conference website: http://ruralwest.stanford.edu/conference/

Rural West Conference, March 2015

 

This year's conference will be in Troutdale, Oregon, a town situated at the gateway to the Columbia Gorge--like many of us, it has one foot in an urban area and one foot in a rural one. This year's conference theme is "Preservation and Transformation: The Future of the Rural West." Through panels on economic vitality, crime and policing, youth, culture, land use, and the availability of services in the rural West, we will address questions such as: What is distinct about the rural West? What should be preserved, and why? And how can we transform the rural West for the better without sacrificing the things that makes the region so unique?

More information is available at the conference website: http://ruralwest.stanford.edu/conference/

Rural West Conference, April 2014

Rethinking the Rural-Urban Divide
In the Modern West

An Interdisciplinary Conference
April 4 & 5, 2014
Stanford University

 

For nearly two centuries, the rural-urban divide has served as one of the great dichotomies in both the conceptual and organizational structuring of the United States; and perhaps in no region more than the American West. This conference seeks to complicate such characterizations in the modern West and explore the increasingly porous nature of the rural-urban divide in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Moreover, the event promises to offer an important intellectual bridge between urban and rural scholars within the West, aiming to advance an interdisciplinary discussion on the inter-connected relationship between the region’s cities and its countryside.

Interested attendees must register online to observe the conference.

Read More »

Comic: Can Fallowing Crops Help Save the Colorado River?

In this illustrated report, the Bill Lane Center for the American West's research assistant Emily Bookstein (Stanford '11) looks at the largest and longest water transfer of its kind in California history. Click the image to read more.

Since the mid-1990s, farmers in the Palo Verde valley in Southern California have embraced a new way to supplement their livelihood: temporarily transferring their water rights to urban utilities in exchange for cash. By not farming, farmers free up to 111,000 acre-feet of agricultural water per year for the cities — enough for 220,000 homes. In this illustrated report, the Bill Lane Center for the American West's research assistant Emily Bookstein (Stanford '11) looks at the largest and longest water transfer of its kind in California history.

 

Last modified Fri, 29 Mar, 2019 at 9:55

Hunting a New Kind of Fugitive in the West

In exploring the hidden sides of the western shale oil and gas boom, the Rural West Initiative has looked at the impact of energy extraction on communities in North Dakota and Wyoming: on housing and infrastructure, strains on health care, disruption of local banks and the importance of refining state fiscal policies

With our video feature "The New Western Fugitives," we now turn our focus on a side effect of gas extraction that is literally invisible: the build-up of “fugitive” emissions that contribute to high levels of ozone gas. 

Last modified Fri, 29 Mar, 2019 at 9:57