For A More Resilient Rural America

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“Rural communities are highly dependent upon natural resources that are affected by climate change. These communities also face particular obstacles in responding to climate change that increase their vulnerability to its impacts.” -- National Climate Assessment 2014

National Association of Counties (NACo) members of rural and small town communities are invited to help shape an important new project to advance climate resilience for rural lands, waters, and small communities. The collaborative Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP) needs your input. Please complete the brief Rural Resilience Survey to guide this new user-informed approach to meeting rural needs for resilience and sustainability in the face of rapidly changing and challenging conditions. 

All across America, our rural communities occupy 95% of the landscape with a wide variety of small towns, woodlands, farms, fisheries, grasslands and deserts. Less than 20% of the American population serve the vital role of stewardship of our rural lands and watersheds as they live, work, and play there (~ 60 million people). These hearty rural residents of sparsely populated landscapes are caretakers of nature’s services that we all depend on for air, water, food, and fiber.  As temperature and precipitation patterns are changing, our rural natural systems and communities are increasingly impacted by more frequent and severe storms, floods, drought, illness, invasive species, infrastructure damage, and more. The impacts of extreme weather and related risks add stress to rural communities already struggling with lack of staff and resources. Despite the importance of managing rural lands for climate resilience, underserved rural communities often lack the capacity or support to tackle climate impacts on their own.

To address this challenge, the collaborative Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP) is underway to meet the specific needs of rural America for effective climate resilience strategies. The overarching goal is to accelerate rural climate actions for resilience by understanding and meeting particular rural needs and strengthening the delivery of training and support for rural and small town communities. The project will create targeted methods to overcome obstacles in rural America and equip adaptation professionals with the best methods to meet the needs of underserved rural communities. 

The input of NACo members and other rural leaders is an important element to achieve this goal. The project is taking a user-informed approach to training development. At each stage, rural users will inform the choice of training topics, production of training content, and design of delivery methods. The project will co-produce and beta test an innovative adaptation training module that enables and motivates rural leaders to take action on a specific, priority adaptation strategy. Input from rural leaders, resource managers, and residents is vital to this process. The resulting training module will be a time efficient process that fits the particular needs of rural leaders. The first step in user engagement is the Rural Resilience Survey, which is available at this survey link. We especially encourage NACo members from rural and small town communities to assist the project by completing this short survey. There are also opportunities to further engage as a project advisor and/or beta tester to take the training and help refine and improve its effectiveness.

We strongly encourage the leaders of rural and small town government and their partners of all disciplines to take this survey now and contribute to the design and success of the project. The survey findings and training module will be a resource for all rural leaders, resource managers, and residents. Thank you for taking this survey and contributing to rural resilience where ever you are!

This project is led in collaboration by the Model Forest Policy Program, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and the NOAA Climate Program Office. It is made possible with funding from the Climate Resilience Fund and Harmonic International, Inc.

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