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Building Capacity in Rural Communities

The Resilient Rural America Project


​Rural communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change, from worsening extreme weather events to changes in crop and livestock productivity. As stewards and providers of food, energy, and other vital resources, rural residents have a critical role in addressing climate changeThe Resilient Rural America Project assists them in understanding how to respond to, plan for, and take necessary actions to address climate change. 

In 2022, about 46 million people, or more than one in seven Americans, lived in rural counties, covering 97% of the Nation’s land mass. These communities steward most of the Nation’s forests, waters, agricultural lands, and fisheries. Because their economies are heavily dependent on the natural environment, rural residents are highly vulnerable to climate impacts.

Rural residents and the lands that they manage have the potential to make important economic and conservation contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation.​

Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II, 2018


Rural communities are less likely to have building codes or land-use policies than their urban counterparts. They also have less economic diversity and relatively limited infrastructure, which together reduces their adaptive capacity and resilience.

​Climate change is already impacting rural lands and livelihoods, from losses due to extreme weather events to reduced livestock and crop yields. Yet, too many rural communities lack the capacity and resources to respond effectively on their own.


To adequately address climate change, many rural communities will need help assessing their risks and vulnerabilities, prioritizing and coordinating projects, deploying decision support tools, and funding and allocating resources.​

The Resilient Rural America Project accelerates rural climate resilience by developing climate knowledge for decision-making, expanding local capacity, and minimizing the natural resource, infrastructure, and public health vulnerabilities of rural communities and the urban populations that depend on them. The project’s flagship no-cost training modules promote resilient land use planning and adaptation actions to address extreme weather across rural lands, waters, and communities.


The two modules promote flexible and cost-effective climate resilience strategies tailored to the distinct needs and priorities of rural communities.


Module 1: Resilient Land Use Planning

Resilient Land Use Planning provides an introduction and practical starting points for assessing extreme weather risks, identifying potential strategies, integrating resilience into local planning processes, and developing an action plan to guide implementation.

Module 2: Rural Flood Mitigation

Rural Flood Mitigation enables and motivates rural leaders to take action on flooding, the nation's most common, costly, and deadly natural hazard. Participants assess their basic flood risk profile and identify a range of cost-effective and durable flood-risk mitigation strategies, including land use policies, natural resource management practices, and nature-based solutions.​


Rural landscapes provide often overlooked ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and water filtration.

Scaling Our Impact

To strengthen and expand training delivery, we are developing a facilitated cohort program for rural users and climate professionals who serve rural communities. Learning from the students’ experience will help us shape future delivery so that it best meets the needs of rural users. We will fully document the cohort training process and share it with extension educators, municipal planners, organizations, and consultants, allowing them to replicate the process and accelerate adoption.​

A Closer Look.


The Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP) was produced in collaboration with the International City/County Management Association , EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and the NOAA Climate Program Office.

The Rural Resilience Training Series was made possible through funding from the Climate Resilience Fund, Harmonic International, and the NOAA Climate Program Office.

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