Empowering our communities to take ownership of their future.

What are we without the communities around us? The wonderfully diverse communities of the West are just as important as its resources and natural environments. The Sonoran Institute is dedicated to helping communities find a balance between their built environments and the natural world around them. The future may be constantly changing, but by helping our resilient communities thrive, we’re able to make a difference.


Empowering Communities


Interstate 11 Corridor

Ensuring a healthy coexistence of our built and natural environments is a critical piece of the work we do at Sonoran Institute. When initiatives like the Interstate 11 Corridor are proposed, it’s our job to weigh all the options and seek to understand the economic and environmental impacts, both positive and negative.

Our report included site visits, GIS analysis and stakeholder interviews. The result? We found that, if properly planned, the proposed “multi-modal” corridor (highway, rail , utility, data, renewable energy transmission, etc.) could achieve its economic goals with minimal harm to the natural environment. Which is exactly what we’re after.

Resilient Communities Starter Kit

The communities of the West are an integral part of what makes this region so unique. And just like their natural environments, communities are faced with unique challenges, particularly, climate. We’re  researching how changing climate conditions affect local communities and economies so we can better prepare them for the future.

Our Resilient Communities Starter Kit is a road map for communities to manage shifting climates and changing environments. It’s become a go-to resource for community leaders, and can be downloaded for free or presented in a facilitated workshop setting.

Climate Impacts on Communities

The cumulative effects of poor air quality and its associated health impacts, along with higher energy and water bills due to drought and climbing average air temperatures, are likely to have a disproportionate impact on undeserved and poor communities throughout the West.

We’re working with such communities to find ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change and prepare them for an uncertain future. These action plans will help community leaders build awareness of this growing issue.


Challenges For Our Communities


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…


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…


Success Stories

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 ›

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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