Contacts - Western Lands and Communities

Program Director
602-393-4310, ext. 309


Impact of Climate Change


August 18, 2014 Sonoran Institute hosted a presentation, Impact of Climate Change: Preparedness in the Latino Community.

Visit the webpage for video recording of the event, powerpoint presentations, and links to reports and information refernced.

New Publication - Arrested Developments


Arrested Developments: Combating Zombie Subdivisions and Other Excess Entitlements by Jim Holway with Don Elliott and Anna Trentadue. The link below takes you to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy publication library.

Download the policy focus report

Scenario Planning Tools Publication


Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools, a Policy Focus Report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, is available for dowload here.

Read about efforts to implement the key recommendations to advance use of scenario planning tools.

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 Western Lands and Communities web-based informational resource to support the exchange of ideas surrounding the management of state trust lands.

Browse the new site at:

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Home Where We Work Westwide Program & Projects

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Western Lands and Communities (WLC) focuses on shaping growth, sustaining cities, protecting resources, and empowering communities in the Intermountain West. It addresses these challenges through applied research, tool development, exploring policy linkages between land and related natural resources, and engagement of policy makers. We regularly rely on demonstration projects to apply and test innovative approaches and focus on dissemination of the lessons learned through working papers, Policy Focus Reports, presentations, and engagement with policy and decision makers. The geographic scope of WLC is the Intermountain West, from the Sun Corridor megaregion in Arizona to Montana's Crown of the Continent. Partners since 2003, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute established the joint program to further their complementary and overlapping missions to shape the future of the Intermountain West by informing land use and related natural resources policy.


Western Lands and Communities efforts are organized into four major integrated areas:

 Urban Form and Smart Growth Research: Reshaping Development Patterns - Arrested Developments

Rapid population growth and development activity, as well as the recent economic downturn, have impacted quality of life, fiscal health of cities and towns, regional economies, sustainability, and ecosystem health throughout the Intermountain West. This program area focuses on research related to smart growth planning and policies that will lead to more sustainable urban form patterns in the West. Western Lands and Communities will continue the multi-year Reshaping Development Patterns effort initiated during FY10 to identify and address key land ownership, market, planning and fiscal consequences of excess development entitlements and best practices to address the challenges these raise for local communities, landowners, the real estate industry, and urban growth patterns. The goals of this project are:

  • Fully understand the nature and extent of these entitlements;
  • Partner with local communities on several place based demonstration projects;
  • Examine potential future markets; and
  • Document the best practices and lessons learned by communities throughout the West.

WLC will produce a Policy Focus Report from this work in 2013.

 Visioning and Planning Tools

Planners and community leaders need affordable and accessible tools and resources that highlight best practices to envision and manage the future of their communities. This program area works to develop tools and applications that will promote smart growth and improve sustainability and urban form in western communities. Western Lands and Communities will continue the development and application of planning tools for conservation priority setting, creating growth projections, and community visioning and scenario development. We are also facilitating a network of tool developers, users, and funders that is creating open source products to expand access to these important tools. WLC will produce a Policy Focus Report on Open Source Tools in 2012. Additionally, our Sustainable Communities Online Toolkit information exchange (SCOTie) went live on July 1, 2011. We are actively incorporating new partners and content into this online searchable database of best practices. Visit the site at or

 State Trust Land Management

State trust land management, the principal focus area of Western Lands and Communities first four years, remains significant due to the extensive state trust land holdings and their importance for sustainable resource use and urban form patterns throughout the Intermountain West. In addition, many of the lessons learned from demonstration projects and research efforts conducted on state trust land are more generally applicable to other public and private lands throughout the intermountain west. Early WLC research resulted in a seminal Policy Focus Report, State Trust Lands in the West: Fiduciary Duty in a Changing Landscape. Current areas of focus include research on ecosystem services markets and frameworks, economic analysis of the "contributory value" of preserved lands to adjacent lands, and solar energy development on public lands. This work will be disseminated through ongoing working papers and a forthcoming Policy Focus Report in 2014 on Conservation Strategies for State Trust Lands. WLC also works with the Western State Land Commissioners Association to advance innovative practices regarding the planning, disposition, and management of state trust lands throughout the West.

 Western Land, Water, Energy and Climate Policy Linkages

Land use and policy, water resources, and energy production are highly interrelated and critical to a sustainable economy for the Intermountain West. The highly variable climate of the West and potential for impacts due to global climate change greatly impact our land and natural resources, and highlight the need to address the interaction between land policy and natural resources. Water resources and electric utility infrastructure are two key issues that necessitate megaregional level coordination and likely provide the best way to introduce climate change challenges into the dialogue in western states. Our 2010 Policy Focus Report, Planning for Climate Change in the West, highlighted the role of local governments in addressing climate change challenges and implementing effective policies. Our current work is focused on developing best practices for integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation into land, water, and energy policy; and advancing development of renewable energy; and engaging a broader civic dialogue on water policy.

The Impact of Climate Change: Preparedness in the Latino Community - August 2014

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