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Public Demand for Preserving Local Open Space
- Kline, J.D.
- Society & natural resources 2006 v.19 no.7 pp. 645
- urban areas, rural areas, planning, public opinion, forests, farms, rangelands, economic analysis, sociodemographic characteristics, population density, income, educational status, urban development, development policy, wildland-urban interface
- Increased development results in the loss of forest, farm, range, and other open space lands that contribute to the quality of life of U.S. residents. I describe an economic rationale for growing public support for preserving local open space, based the growing scarcity of open space lands. I test the rationale empirically by correlating the prevalence of open space referenda in U.S. counties to socioeconomic variables, including population density, change in density, per capita income, education, and other factors. Data come from the Trust for Public Land LandVote database and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The results suggest how key socioeconomic trends---most notably, population growth, rising incomes, development, and increasing open space scarcity---motivate interest and support for preserving open space, when open space lands remain unprotected. The analysis provides a context for discussing policy and management strategies for addressing urban sprawl and open space loss.