Date of Award


Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Barty Warren-Kretzschmar


Barty Warren-Kretzschmar


Shannon Wing Belmont


Researchers have long sought to understand the relationship between rural population decline and the factors causing variations from time to time and from place to place (Albrecht, 2010). However, few studies have made comparisons at the local level or developed appropriate regional or place-based metrics. The purpose of this project was to determine which local-level factors and variables correlate with rural population decline and to provide recommendations based on those findings.

This project analyzed the relationships between 2000-2010 population trends and a variety of demographic, economic, and biophysical factors specific to rural communities throughout the state of Utah. A community-level natural amenity index was developed in order to investigate the relationship between population change and the presence or absence of place-specific natural amenities. Findings suggest that planning for rural population decline should be comprehensive and systematic, recognize the joint influence of factors and variables, understand that factors are time dependent, promote physical and social geographic linkages, and acknowledge the leading role of economics.