Understanding the Impacts and Implications of Rural Gentrification in the American West

Many amenity towns in the Western United States are struggling with rapid in-migration and its corresponding impacts on natural resources, socioeconomic inequality, and community culture and character. The regional growth associated with three rural hubs in the West–Summit County, Colorado; Jackson, Wyoming; Bend, Oregon–can offer insights into this phenomenon of rural gentrification. In partnership with Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative (NRCC), and through conversations with stakeholders and analysis of spatial trends and media coverage, the project team is examining the impacts and implications of rural gentrification for local government policies, local conservation NGOs, and the agricultural industry. Our work will culminate in a report that demonstrates the connections between these aspects and offers recommendations for future action in these places and other areas facing rural gentrification.


Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative





Mara MacDonell, Research Assistant | Mara MacDonell is a Masters of Environmental Science student interested in rural communities, science communication, transitioning economies, and environmental justice in the American West. While she grew up in rural, remote northern Minnesota, she fell in love with the West while working in social services policy and programming in Telluride, CO. She has also coached Nordic skiing, served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and guided backcountry canoe and backpacking trips. She holds a BA in geology from Carleton College. In her free time, Mara enjoys backcountry skiing, running rivers, rock climbing, and painting. See what Mara has been up to.  |  Blog

Molly Ryan, Research Assistant | Molly Ryan is a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of the Environment specializing in ecosystem management and conservation. She grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she originally became interested in the intersection between people and natural places. Through her degree, Molly hopes to better understand the social aspects of conservation and land management, with a particular emphasis on stewardship behavior, environmental communication, and equity. Prior to YSE, Molly received her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Geography at Dartmouth College and worked as an analyst in the private sector conducting visitor use management research for the National Park Service. See what Molly has been up to.  |  Blog

Shannon Bell, Western Resource Fellow and Research Assistant | Shannon is a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of the Environment specializing in environmental policy analysis. She is particularly interested in collaborative policymaking and nature-based climate solutions in the Pacific Northwest, especially in her home state of Oregon. Shannon was inspired to return to the landscape where she was born and raised by both her education in environmental science and climate policy as well as her intimate connection with the diverse forest and highland desert ecosystems. She came to Yale after graduating from the University of British Columbia with a B.S. in Honors Environmental Science. See what Shannon has been up to.  |  Blog

Lani Chang, Research Assistant | Lani Chang is a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of the Environment focusing on water and public land issues in the American West. In particular, she interested in understanding how to better integrate stakeholder engagement, local/indigenous knowledge, and creative science communication to achieve more equitable and sustainable outcomes. Having grown up in California and attended Colorado College for her BA, her interests have been heavily influenced through her time living, working, and recreating all over the West. See what Lani has been up to.  |  Blog