'The Next Best Place'

'The Next Best Place'

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This research examines the historic and contemporary planning practices and development patterns in Gallatin County, Montana, USA, from 1970 to 2004 and the attempts by environmental groups and the National Park Service to influence these practices. The rapid rural subdivision in Gallatin County, on the northwestern edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, served as an effective case study of qexurbanq development in the American West. Changing planning practices and the influences upon them were examined through qualitative interviews and historiographic techniques. Spatial development patterns were assessed through Geographic Information System analysis. This research revealed a substantial shift in the advocacy strategies of local and regional environmental groups as they moved their emphases from public to private lands and adopted planning and economic rationales as rhetorical arguments for altering development patterns. As part of this shift, groups also used ecological science more qreflexivelyq by identifying social and economic proxies for their internal ecological goals. These tactics contributed to long-term trends in increasing local decision-maker discretion and use of planning tools such as zoning districts and open space. The National Park Service directly influenced only a few planning decisions where a specific park resource was threatened but had a larger influence acting through indirect proxies. Trends in the spatial patterns of development at several scales revealed few indications that changes in planning goals and rhetoric were altering subdivisions patterns. At the subdivision scale, analysis revealed recent increases in clustering and incorporation of open space that reflected recent planning goals. Combined, these results indicated a growing involvement by environmental groups in the county's private lands and the increasing use of planning tools and decision-maker discretion. Analysis also revealed, though, a substantial gap between planning goals and the actual pattern of recent development on the landscape. Planning showed little effectiveness in mitigating the ecological impacts of development.... to address issues such as affordable housing, livable cities, right-to-farm efforts , and a host of other urban and suburban issues. As such, groups addressed Whitea#39;s (1996) observed lack of working landscapes within environmental advocacyanbsp;...

Title:'The Next Best Place'
Author: Eric David Compas
Publisher:ProQuest - 2008

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