Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Dale J. Blahna


Dale J. Blahna


John C. Allen


Steven W. Burr


Douglass Jackson-Smith


In recent decades, many rural, natural resource-dependent communities have experienced ubiquitous and oftentimes substantial economic decline due to downturns in their commodity-oriented industries. In spite of this, communities with access to varying forms of natural capital have experienced an upsurge in activities such as recreation,tourism, second home growth, and retirement in-migration. If managed properly, amenity-oriented development has potential to reverse economic decline by attracting tourists, entrepreneurs, younger and more educated workers, and retirees, and may ultimately generate economic diversification, local growth, and an improved quality of life for residents. While there are literally thousands of potential measures of well-being, this study aimed to identify potential indicators of amenity-transition by examining community social and economic capital. To examine such a complex social and economic transition, these indicators were coupled with indicators from the tourism and amenity-development literature, and linked to concepts from Resiliency Theory from the ecosystem science literature, in a longitudinal study of amenity transition communities in the Pacific Northwest. Results focus on measures of social organization and economic sustainability in three study communities: McCall, ID; Leavenworth, WA; and Prineville, OR. Key informant interviews and historical documents were used to develop adaptive curves for each community, and to help evaluate the concepts and indicator variables that contribute to community resilience and adaptability. Secondary indicator data serve as a quantitative linkage between Social Capital and Resiliency Theories and the adaptive phases communities may experience throughout this transition. The results identify key historical periods for each community as residents adapt to economic and social change. Using key informant interviews coupled with secondary data provided a clearer picture of how each community has transformed and redefined itself throughout transition.