The Rural Alcohol Environment in Allegany County

Rural areas are often overlooked in national studies of youth issues, receive less grant funding than metropolitan areas, and consequently posses inadequate youth-related resources and programming. This deficiency in knowledge and assistance is called the “rural resource gap.” Collaborations between community organizations and spatial thinkers are crucial when traditional methods fail to meet the needs of under served areas.

Shawnee Bigelow, with Partners of Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC), and the Rural Justice Institute team, used GIS analysis to pinpoint issues unique to rural areas when studying the alcohol environment and the impact of alcohol outlet density. In rural areas, as opposed to urban areas, alcohol outlets were not only concentrated to commercial and entertainment venues, but were accessible uniformly across areas of different population density and income levels. The rural environment poses an entirely different set of challenges to curbing underage drinking and further study is essential to solving these issues.

While it was difficult to draw conclusions in an area so large and sparsely populated, the study revealed numerous relationships for further spatial investigation and collaboration.

Click here to read the full report

Click here to look at just the maps

(Click on the map to view a larger version)

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