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The potential impacts of development on wildlands in El Dorado County, CaliforniaAuthor(s): Shawn C. Saving; Gregory B. Greenwood
Source: In: Standiford, Richard B., et al, tech. editor. Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on Oak Woodlands: Oaks in California's Challenging Landscape. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-184, Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture: 443-461
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
PDF: View PDF (1.1 MB)
DescriptionWe modeled future development in rapidly urbanizing El Dorado County, California, to assess ecological impacts of expanding urbanization and effectiveness of standard policy mitigation efforts. Using raster land cover data and county parcel data, we constructed a footprint of current development and simulated future development using a modified stochastic flood-fill algorithm. We modeled combinations of constraints from the 1996 County General Plan and parcel data—slope, stream buffers, oak canopy retention, existing development, public ownership, regional clustering, and acquisition programs—and overlaid development outcomes onto the land cover data. We then calculated metrics of habitat loss and fragmentation for natural land cover types. Rural residential development erodes habitat quality much more than habitat extent. Policy alternatives ranging from existing prescriptions to very restrictive regulations had marginal impact on mitigating habitat loss and fragmentation. Historic land parcelization limits mitigation of impacts by the current General Plan prescriptions that only apply when a parcel requires subdivision before development. County-wide ordinances were somewhat more effective in preserving habitat and connectivity. These solutions may not offer enough extra protection of natural resources to justify the expenditures of "political capital" required for implementation. Custom, parcel based acquisition scenarios minimized habitat loss and maximized connectivity. Better analysis of public policy and planning design may be a more effective "smart growth" tool than generic policy prescriptions.
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CitationSaving, Shawn C.; Greenwood, Gregory B. 2002. The potential impacts of development on wildlands in El Dorado County, California. In: Standiford, Richard B., et al, tech. editor. Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on Oak Woodlands: Oaks in California''s Challenging Landscape. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-184, Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture: 443-461
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