Shaping the future of the West by informing land use and natural resources policy.

The Western Lands and Communities (WLC) Program is a collaboration between our teams at the Sonoran Institute and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. This partnership is a mutually beneficial one: The Sonoran Institute combines its hands-on, community-focused approach with the Lincoln Institute’s land policy expertise, creating a powerful force for Western change.

NRCS creek rancher

The Western Lands and Communities Program looks at the economic, environmental and community needs of the West with a long-term, strategic perspective, focusing on four main objectives:

1.  Shaping growth
2.  Sustaining cities
3.  Protecting resources
4.  Empowering communities

Research is a big part of what the WLC Program does. Knowing how to balance our built environments with the natural world (and understanding the policies needed to support this balance) is a primary focus of the program.


But research only goes so far. We also create the tools needed to make this research actionable.  Visioning and planning tools allow policy makers, city planners and conservationists to make smarter, more informed decisions about how we should guide this region into the future.

On the policy side, state land trust management is where the WLC got its start, and remains an important part of its work. In addition, land use policy, water resources, energy and climate factors all impact the economic health of this region. We’re providing communities with the tools and training they need to increase climate resiliency, develop scenario planning, plan for renewable energy and, in general, participate in the broader conversation surrounding land and natural resource policy.

Learn more about the Western Lands and Communities Program and see how you can get involved.

Donate Now

Featured Items

Resilient Communities Starter Kit
Read more