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Factors influencing the protection of open space and natural resources in county land use plans: Opportunities for extension

Purdue University
Publication Date
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry And Wildlife|Urban And Regional Planning
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Political Science


Globally, substantial differences are apparent in the sophistication of planning for nature and biodiversity conservation. An evolutionary model based on community age is presented to explain this variation and contends that younger communities can learn from landscape planning lessons of more mature communities. Extension programming and the use of science-based decision tools may offer communities an “acceleration zone” through which they can speed toward adoption of more sophisticated planning systems, thus avoiding the consequences of losing critical natural resources. The 54% of county plan commission officials in the upper Wabash River basin who felt that their counties needed more protections for land based resources, cited the lack of public or decision maker willingness to support these policies and local political realities as primary barriers to implementing such protections in the county. Officials most likely (42.7%) to impose greater restrictions on developments brought before their commission perceived constraints to such actions. Plan commission officials willing to support additional policies and restrictions to protect their county's open space and natural resources perceived a diminished current quality of life, perceived prolonged growth as a threat to their future livelihood, did not perceive the negatives often associated with wild lands, and put more emphasis on the use values of their home and community than on the exchange values of their real estate. Extension programming and informational resources designed to help counties examine and debate future land use issues should allow officials and citizens the opportunity to explore how protection of open space and natural resources will affect the: (1) Current and future quality of life of individuals in the county; (2) Potential negatives associated with wild lands—the appearance of the county, the level of pest problems, and tax revenue the county receives; and (3) Personal exchange values—the resale potential and value of neighboring properties. ^

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