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Fifth Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference

A Healthier Rural West: Critical Issues…Innovative Solutions

Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 23-25, 2017

Panel 6: Environmental Health: Managing Unmanageable Elements

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In the environment of the American West, the elements of fire and water play an outsized role. Managing the health of the environment, from the high Rockies to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, means ensuring there is enough clean water to support flora and fauna and enough control of natural fuels to ensure that fires do not go out of control, as the 2011 Las Conchas fire did in the Jemez mountains. Have state and federal policies to respond to drought and to control fires worked? Have failures to manage water and fire harmed human health? What lessons have been learned and what should be done to manage fire and water going forward?

Held March 25, 2017 at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM


Speakers Click name to cue video

Panel Recap

Bill Armstrong of the U.S. Forest Service debunked the myth that all forest fires are detrimental. He emphasized the need for regular, controlled fires to clear land to avoid catastrophic fires like the 2011 Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico that burned more than 150,000 acres at a rate of about 1 acre per second. Rita Maguire, former director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, described rural communities’ heavy dependence on groundwater, which has a finite amount. When water supply is low, it is often rural communities that suffer the most.


Panel 3: Housing


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Rural West Conference Volume

Bridging the Distance

Common Issues of the Rural West

Edited by David B. Danbom
Foreword by David M. Kennedy

Published in cooperation with the Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University
The University of Utah Press has published Bridging the Distance, a book by the Rural West Initiative of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. Edited by the distinguished historian David B. Danbom and with a foreword by Center co-founding director David M. Kennedy, the book explores the Rural West across four dimensions: Community, Land, Economics – and defining the Rural West itself. The book is the result of work presented at the first Conference on the Rural West, which took place in Ogden, Utah, in October 2012.