VCAPS Project: Convening a series of climate adaptation workshops with communities in the Mountain West

Start Date

Research Theme
Primary Investigators

Geographic Region

VCAPS is designed to support communities to:

  • Engage in dialogue about the impacts of future weather and climate threats

  • Summarize and integrate local knowledge and experience about how the community will be impacted 

  • Identify gaps in data, knowledge, or understanding

  • Think strategically about actions that can be taken to increase resilience in the short and long term


Why VCAPS is unique:

  • VCAPS is not just about providing climate information; the process helps local decision-makers use a systems-thinking approach to make sense of how climate and weather hazards are linked to multiple social, economic, health and other consequences in their community; it connects knowledge with local adaptation options.

  • VCAPS helps communities create an inventory of public and private actions that can be taken to reduce vulnerability to a specific hazard from multiple angles. Actions are documented in real-time in diagrams.

  • The process itself is designed to generate dialogue, shared understanding, and collective commitment and accountability to action.

  • In essence: VCAPS provides structured discussion so a group can pool their knowledge of an issue in an efficient manner and document it visually.


The VCAPS Pilot Project

In the summer and fall of 2018 and 2019, the entire WWA team helped to plan and facilitate VCAPS workshops in six smaller and mid-sized communities in Colorado and Utah:

  • Durango, CO (Summer 2018)

  • Carbondale, CO (Fall 2018)

  • Cortez, CO (Fall 2018)

  • Routt County, CO (Fall 2018)

  • Springdale, UT (Fall 2018)

  • Moab, UT (Summer 2019)

Each community-driven VCAPS workshop focused on key hazards that WWA staff identified in interviews with workshop participants. Due to the ongoing historic drought in 2018, all of the communities chose to focus on drought, and two communities also focused on extreme precipitation. 

Taken together, the VCAPS workshops have given these smaller municipalities locally-relevant climate information and convened conversations that have helped them to advance their own efforts to increase resilience to severe drought. Since the workshops, we have heard from many of the communities that participated in the VCAPS Pilot Project about the value of these workshops and the impacts they had on municipal planning processes and decisions. 

Next Steps

We recently conducted an online survey and interviews with workshop participants, as part of a formal evaluation process. A graduate student, Zöe McAlear, also evaluated the VCAPS Pilot Project for her MIT Master’s Thesis. We plan to publish articles that share results of this evaluation and more details about the VCAPS project soon. 

WWA will apply lessons learned in the VCAPS Pilot Project to lead additional VCAPS workshops in Wyoming in 2022. 


Learn more about the VCAPS process

Read reports from workshops in the following communities:

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