Protecting Wetlands from Exurban Development

Michael R. Taber, Colorado College,
Gerry Saunders, Unity College
Korey Champe, PASCO Scientific
Daniel Hayes, Water Management Agency
Johanna Ledley, Mount Holyoke College
Betsy Youngman,, contributor

Published: October 2010. Last updated: May 2011.


Note: This chapter was retired in October 2018. The visualization tool (My World GIS) is no longer supported.
An example of an undisturbed wetland near Moscow, Russia. Source: Wikimedia commons.

In this chapter, you will take on the role of land-use planner in Baker County, Florida. You will use My World GISTM tools in order to determine the best location for issuing a fifty-acre development permit. This site-based, problem-based case is situated near the town of Macclenny, in Baker County, Florida. This site was chosen because the area is undergoing urban sprawl (exurban development) from neighboring Jacksonville, Florida. This chapter provides the user with a model for learning how to conduct geographic information system (GIS) analysis on land-use, wetland, and political geography datasets. This chapter uses My World GISTM for conducting the spatial analysis.

The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) estimates that over twelve million hectares, or 46,000 square miles, of land were converted from forest or agricultural land to exurban developed landscapes in the past 40 years. (NRCS, 1999). In the 1990s, exurban transformations grew 17.8% over any other land-use change. More importantly, this new landscape attracted nearly 32% of the expanding population (Nelson and Sanchez, 2005).

There are many complicated factors facing land-use planners. In this case, these factors fall into three broad categories: utilizing transportation infrastructure, protecting wetlands, and minimizing land-use change.

This chapter is part of the Earth Exploration Toolbook. Each chapter provides teachers and/or students with direct practice for using scientific tools to analyze Earth science data. Students should begin on the Case Study page.

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