Main content area

Preserving the scenic views from North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway: A decision support system for strategic land conservation planning

Anderson, Carl C., Rex, Art
Applied geography 2019 v.104 pp. 75-82
U.S. National Park Service, decision support systems, geographic information systems, land management, lidar, planning, remote sensing, vegetation, North Carolina
Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) collaborates with the US National Park Service to preserve land along North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway. Escalating pressures from development in the region are threatening the park's scenic views, the primary visitor attraction. A ranked mapping of land parcels for conservation that takes into account visibility is therefore crucial for the park's sustainable management and success. The visibility of parcels within a two mile (3.22 km) buffer of the Parkway was modeled in a GIS-based viewshed decision support system. Using distance decay weightings and LiDAR data to capture obstructive vegetation curtains while driving and at scenic overlooks, a realistic representation of visitor experience was replicated and validated using satellite imagery. This decision support system allows for the efficient allocation of limited conservation resources based on the ranks of over 30,000 parcels within the study area and provides a replicable methodology for similar conservation planning elsewhere.