Rangeland Transition and Fragmentation

The wide-open vistas that characterize Western rangelands are part of their uniqueness and appeal. However, as more people have chosen to make a one- to forty-acre "home on the range" surrounding one of the West's rapidly growing metropolitan areas, a new geography is emerging. While new people can bring fresh ideas, markets, and jobs, and proper planning and land use policies may avert many of the horrors associated with urban and ex-urban sprawl, this rapid transition from rural rangeland to residential and commercial space threatens the very values that draw people to the region. By designating wilderness, we entice people to build next to it, fragmenting habitat for wildlife and disrupting natural processes such as fire. Within the cities of the New West, quality of life declines with increasing traffic and air pollution. Here we present some of the primary concerns associated with the rapid transition of Western rangelands.

  • Smart Growth Online: Covers a wide range of topics, such as quality of life, economics, environment, and principles, such as creating walkable neighborhoods and creating housing opportunities and choices, including bibliographies for each. From the Sustainable Communities Network.
  • Planners Web: Information on the roots of, problems with, and possible solutions to sprawl, from the Planning Commissioners Journal.