Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, How to get involved and push the process.
Wading into the world of planning is much like walking into quicksand: The more you struggle with it, the more bogged down you get. Fortunately, there are some useful starting points.
The state of Montana puts out a helpful 47-page free publication, A Primer on Land Use Planning and Regulation for Local Governments, which offers straightforward explanations of the planning process and tools, from conservation easements to zoning. Other free detailed booklets are also available on specifics, such as creating affordable housing and regulating subdivisions. Contact the Technical Assistance Program, Department of Commerce, 1424 9th Ave., Helena, MT 59620 (406/444-4479).
The state of Washington has also developed a comprehensive series of publications. One booklet, Defining Rural Character and Planning for Rural Lands, provides easy-to-read, practical advice for rural counties. The state also publishes a quarterly newsletter, About Growth. To get a list of publications or to subscribe to the newsletter, contact The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, Growth Management Services, 906 Columbia St. Southwest, P.O. Box 48300, Olympia, WA 98504-8300 (206/753-2222).
Good general information is also available from the Western Rural Development Center, which analyzes community development issues in cooperation with land grant universities throughout the West. The center has re-issued three inexpensive booklets in a series called Coping with Change, which look at population and the economic impacts of growth on rural communities. For more information, contact WRDC, Ballard Extension Hall 307, Corvallis, OR 97331-3607 (503/737-3621).
The granddaddy planning source, the American Planning Association, represents planners and planning boards throughout the United States. APA publishes Planning magazine and a wide variety of other publications. For a copy of APA's Planner Bookstore catalog, write to 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637 (312/955-9100).
Western Planning Resources Inc. is the APA of the West. Its members belong to state planning associations in Montana, Washington, Nevada, Nebraska, Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Alaska. WPR publishes an informative, though sometimes technical, newsletter, The Western Planner, eight issues for $24, and hosts an annual conference. For more information, write Steve Kurtz, Editor, The Western Planner, Worthington, Lenhart and Carpenter, 632 S. David, Casper, WY 82601 (307/266-2524). Single copy, $5; eight issues, $24.
For the planner or activist interested in showing elected officials the real cost of development, in terms of services, consider three slim booklets produced by the American Farmland Trust. Does Farmland Protection Pay: The Cost of Community Services in Three Massachussetts Towns; Is Farmland Protection A Community Investment: How to do a Community Services Study; and The Cost of Community Services in Madison Village and Township, Lake County, Ohio, are available from AFT, 1920 N Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036 (202/659-5170).
Planning the Oregon Way: A Twenty-year Evaluation analyzes the successes and failures of the state's landmark land-use planning law. This is a fascinating study in politics and planning technique, especially for those interested in adopting the Oregon model. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, 1994, edited by Carl Abbot, et al. Hardback, 328 pages. $25.95 plus $3 postage. Call 503/737-3166.
Rural Environmental Planning for Sustainable Communities, by Frederick O. Sargent, et al., presents a system of planning based on biological land classification and carrying capacity, instead of traditional, human-based land planning criteria. Step-by-step instructions show how to conceive, write and implement plans for environmentally sound communities. Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1991. Paper, 254 pages. $29.95.
Private land conservation
Information about working with individual landowners to protect lands from development can be obtained from the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization for land trusts. The Alliance publishes a wide variety of how-to books on setting up land trusts, tax strategies for conservation-minded landowners, and conservation easements, among other subjects. One of its most widely read books is Starting a Land Trust: A Guide to Forming a Land Conservation Organization in Your Community, published in 1990. $20 including shipping. Contact the Alliance at 1319 F St. NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC 20004-1106 (202/638-4725).
In a similar vein, Preserving Family Lands: Essential Tax Strategies for the Landowner, written in easy-to-understand language by attorney Stephen J. Small, provides basics on how landowners can protect heirs from getting socked with expensive estate taxes that force them to sell the family farm or ranch. Stephen J. Small, 1992, paper, 99 pages. $8.95 plus $3 postage. Discounts for large orders. To order, write Landowner Planning Center, P.O. Box 4508, Boston, MA 02101-4508 (617/728-9799).
Former planner John B. Wright makes the case for private conservation over government regulation in Rocky Mountain Divide: Selling and Saving the West. Wright examines the phenomenal growth of land trusts in the West and compares Colorado, where there are dozens of trusts, to Utah, where there are virtually none. An appendix lists the address of every land trust in the Intermountain West. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1993. Hardback, 275 pages. $27.95.
Demographics and Politics
For a broad-brush survey of the latest growth phenomenon in the West, take a look at The West at Risk. Dick Lamm, a former governor of Colorado who directs the Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues at the University of Denver, is co-author of the 22-page abstract that explores the region's rapid growth rates and suggests some policy reforms that could help states and communities cope. For a copy, write the center at 2301 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO 80208.
Montana State sociologist Pat Jobes is the co-editor of Community, Society and Migration: Non-economic migration in America. The book examines the numbers and reasons behind the exodus from America's cities. The chapter, "Economic and Quality of Life Decisions in Migration to a High Natural Amenities Area," is particularly germane to the West. University Press of America, New York, N.Y., 1992. Hardback, 389 pages. $48.50.
More an inspirational community guide than a planning book, Community and The Politics of Place describes the decline of participatory democracy in America and suggests ways to reinstate the public in the republic. The author, former Missoula, Mont., mayor Daniel Kemmis, provides plenty of on-the-ground examples from the polarized West. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Okla., 1990. Paper, 150 pages, $9.95 plus $2.50 postage (405/325-5111).