Feeling overwhelmed by pell-mell developments that consume the landscape of your community? Two new books suggest a remedy — a variety of innovative planning methods, illustrated with plenty of maps, diagrams and photos.
Typical subdivisions are shaped around the "human context" —
roads and schools, zoning, and the marketability of the lots and
houses — but the "ecological context" should also be
considered, say the authors of Practical Ecology for
Planners, Developers, and Citizens. They explain how
different styles of subdivisions, plunked down in different
landscapes, have widely varying consequences for ecosystems.
The impacts of weeds, chemicals, artificial light and
heat, and predation by dogs and cats reach beyond lot lines and
roads, causing "edge effects." The authors offer suggestions to
limit such effects, including pockets of "nature in the
neighborhood" and trails designed to draw wildlife as well as
people. They call for clearing land with a light touch and phasing
in construction to give wildlife a chance to adapt. They also show
how to evaluate degraded areas and restore wildness.
second book, Nature-Friendly Communities: Habitat
Protection and Land Use Planning, profiles 20
conservation-minded communities, ranging from King County, Wash.,
to Sanibel, Fla. Duerksen and Snyder describe each
community’s programs in detail — regulations, staffing
levels, funding sources, impact fees, partnerships with private
businesses, and results on the ground.
Wyo., for example, has a Natural Resource Overlay District, where
developers must inventory the wildlife habitat their activities
could affect, and development is banned within 150 feet of elk
migration routes and spawning streams for cutthroat trout. Eugene,
Ore., has a Wetland Buffer Overlay Zone, where rare wetlands
coexist with carefully planned industrial development.
Both books are especially relevant in the West, the nation’s
fastest-growing region. They’ll help you, your fellow
residents, and local developers and leaders to make informed
decisions about community planning.
Urban planning — with a wild touch
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