The most interesting comment was offered by Denise Denton, former NRHA president. She noted that many on the advocacy side of the discussion were arguing from the assumption that an inclusive definition of frontier was a good thing under all circumstances. Denise offered a thought experiment: would you want an inclusive definition if, for example, regulations were passed that required all Federal prisons to be located in frontier counties?
Potential consensus on a definition structure, first voiced by Denise and more fully expressed by Tom Morris, ORHP administrator, seemed to focus on a "frontier and..." concept. "Frontier" could be defined geographically. Eligibility for USDA and ORHP programs, a concern of many present, could be addressed by the "and": "...and high unemployment" for economic development, or "...and 75 miles from a hospital." The "frontier and..." or even "rural and..." structure could allow for communities with particular problems to have those problems considered, without conflating geographic and programmatic considerations.
All in all, a challenging task! Gary & John Cromartie (USDA) will really be working hard over the next year.