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    Author(s): Sakura R. Evans; Danielle Jensen-Ryan
    Date: 2017
    Source: Appalachian Journal
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (3.0 MB)


    Referred to as exurbanization, amenity migration, counter-urbanization, rural sprawl, or neo-rural migration, the influx of urban migrants into rural communities has been increasingly studied over the last 50 years, both domestically and internationally. Exurbanization, a term Spectorsky coined in 1955, represents a “rural restructuring” as rural communities, environments, and economies shift from agricultural, or productivist, to other post-productivist or neo productivist landscapes

    While the concept of exurbanization conforms to the general idea of “sprawl”, Cadieux explains that the characterizing feature of exurbanizationa that differentiates it from unexplained residential development on the urban periphery is the amount of land. She argues that exurban development is desirable specifically because it involves low population density and large parcel sizes, and it is the “material and ideological benefits of sprawling nature [that] attract amenity migrants to exurban landscapes.”

    Exurbanization is also the fastest growing manner of land acquisition in the United States and a primary driver of economies transitioning from natural resource extraction to the service industry. Scholars have expressed growing concern over the impacts of exurbanization on environmental resources, particularly impacts on water as increase population density applies pressure on the regional water supply due to increased water consumption. Furthermore, as residential and commercial development increase with a region to accommodate growing population of retirees and amenity migrates increased impervious surfaces, stream sedimentation, and erosion have resulted in impaired stream health and water quality.

    Yet, one of the most serious threats to stream health and water quality from urbanization is the impact of land use decision making at the parcel level. As land that is more rural becomes fragmented and sold, more landowners own smaller parcels, thus intensifying land management on regional resources. In particular, stream management by private landowners, specifically the management of riparian zones, or the area between land and rivers or streams, has been highlighted as a critical area for research and restoration.

    Southern Appalachia is a water rich region with an extensive network of streams and rivers that effectively function as a water tower for the Southeastern United States. The region is also undergoing rapid exurban development, providing an excellent opportunity to determine if, and how, exurbanization is having an impact on the regional environment. When viewed as a watershed, parcel level decision-making can directly affect stream health and water quality. Therefore, we chose to examine intra-community patterns of stream management between two populations of landowners in the same community by surveying values about property and water rights, preference for stream appearance, perceptions of stream health, and stream management practices.

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    Evans, Sakura R.; Jensen-Ryan, Danielle. 2017. Exurbanization and its impact on water resources: stream management amoung newcomer and generational landowners in Southern Appalachia. Appalachian State Journal. 44: 26-50

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