The Story of the West is Your Story, Too

The future of our region isn’t dependent on one factor alone. There is a deep connection between natural resource conservation, economic prosperity – and you. We’re all connected to the natural resources and beautiful environments around us. So let’s work together to make a difference for the future of the West.

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Flourishing Landscapes

From vast deserts to snow covered peaks, the West is a unique collection of vistas and environments.

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Abundant Natural Resources

Communities and ecosystems rely on an environment’s natural resources to survive. The West is no different.

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Vibrant Communities

You and your community are just as important as the land we live on. Supporting and sustaining communities as they grow and adapt to change is one of our prime missions.

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Our Programs

From bringing back a dying ecosystem to providing communities the tools and training they need to deal with a changing environment and economy, our programs optimize our mission to connect communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them.

Resilient Communities and Watersheds

Within the Colorado River basin, the combination of over allocated water systems, rapid population growth, and increasing uncertainty in the face of climate change requires…

Colorado River Delta

A Resource Worth Saving The Colorado River once formed a lush delta teeming with birds and aquatic species as it flowed into the Gulf of California. Historically, it covered more than 3,000 square… MORE ›

Santa Cruz River

The Santa Cruz River has provided life-sustaining water for more than 12,000 years. Climate aridification and a century of overuse has negatively impacted the river, however we can continue to restore its vitality.


Challenges We Are Confronting

What comes with living in one of the most diverse and unique environments in the country? Equally diverse and unique challenges. Luckily, the Sonoran Institute is specially equipped to confront the environmental, economic, and community issues facing our region.


Supporting a clean, safe and reliable future. Clean. Renewable. Safe. These are energy concerns for any growing community, especially the West. It’s vital to our survival that we establish healthy energy practices, and…

Growth and Infrastructure

Growth is a good thing, right? Absolutely, especially when talking about the communities and economies that continue to flourish in the West. However, successful and sustainable…

The Colorado River Basin

Protecting the life source of the West has never been more important. Water is life. And there’s no better example of this than the West. Water is the source of community development, agriculture…


The West is epitomized by iconic images of natural beauty. But uncontrolled growth, unsustainable energy practices and careless planning threaten the very elements that brought us to the West…


Working to ensure an efficient and sustainable transportation future for the West. Life is full of activity. Going to work. Taking your kids to school. Going to the grocery store. So how do you…

Economic Prosperity

Supporting you, your community and your economic health. Your community’s economic health directly affects the lives of you and your family. But how do you gauge that health? How do you…

Extreme Climate Events

Leading communities to successful futures through up-to-date climate research. From droughts to floods to forest fires, the West is not immune to…


Featured Stories

If you live in the West or have come to love the West, these are stories about communities, landscapes, and economies you care about. Stories of resilience, collaboration, and success.

Santa Cruz River: Paradise Lost, Paradise Reborn, Will it be Lost Again?

The federally endangered Gila topminnow had not been seen in its native habitat, the Santa Cruz River, for more than a decade. Then, in December 2015 they came back.

What Can a River Teach us?

The sun is just rising through their school bus windows, but these fourth graders aren’t going to school. Instead, they are doing something some of them have never done before; they’re taking a… MORE ›

Interstate 11 Inspires Next Generation of Designers

The idea of a transcontinental highway in the West, spanning from Mexico to Canada, has been kicking around for decades. The possibility of this “CANAMEX” route, bookended by two international trade ports, has… MORE ›

Mexicali Fluye: Getting Good Things Flowing in Our Communities

There was no way to avoid it. A mountain of old tires, plastic containers, household garbage, and other assorted junk piled up to four times their height loomed just steps away from the… MORE ›

Phoenix’s West Valley
Protecting the Crown Jewel of Phoenix’s West Valley

Helping establish the White Tank Mountains Conservancy builds on our long tradition of incubating new community conservation organizations – now more than 2 dozen that have conserved more than 145K acres of public & private lands, and raised more than $206 million – dedicated to protecting local natural and cultural resources.

From Sewage to Sanctuary: Las Arenitas Treatment Wetland

Green infrastructure—using nature’s ability to provide the same services associated with more conventional “grey” infrastructure—offers tremendous ecological and economic benefits. Nowhere is this more evident than on a 250-acre wetland we created to treat wastewater and serve as a refuge for birds and other wildlife in the Colorado River Delta.

Bringing Blue Sky to the California Desert Protection Debate

We develop tools & information for communities to better understand what’s driving their local economies and for public land managers to assess the relative benefits of protecting or developing these lands. Our work underscores that protecting public lands is important economic development strategy. The California Desert is our most recent success.

Restoring the Colorado River Estuary

Innovative. Collaborative. Turning the impossible to possible. That is what we are doing in the Colorado River Delta and our newest effort in the estuary—one of the most productive and endangered ecosystems on earth—combines these themes.

Resilient Communities Workshop Helps Missoula Become Summer Smart

As the West changes, we encounter challenges. Our Western Lands and Communities program is developing the tools communities desperately need to address those challenges collaboratively.


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