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UW's Ruckelshaus Institute Releases Report on Land Use Trends in Wyoming

September 25, 2009 — A new report by the University of Wyoming's Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources examines the impacts of growth on Wyoming's natural environment and provides options and resources for how to develop while maintaining the state's open spaces.

The report, "Wyoming's State of Space," was created for state and local officials, land planners and residents who are engaged in efforts to balance new developments, private property rights and the desire to maintain community character. The project also supports the Governor's Office's "Building the Wyoming We Want" initiative, which encourages public participation in local land use planning.

"This report represents the university and the Ruckelshaus Institute's commitment and service to the state in providing the best available information on open space issues important to the citizens of Wyoming," said John Turner, chair of the Ruckelshaus Institute Board and former director of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

To compile what is known about land use and population change in Wyoming, UW scientists collected and analyzed data to chart growth and development trends in the state over the past 15 years. The report draws on the expertise of dozens of UW faculty members and government experts, and provides valuable insight into ways to balance maintaining Wyoming's open spaces with the state's economic prosperity.

"Local land use issues can be contentious but are easier navigated when people are aware of the array of options and tools to create developments that add to rather than detract from their community," said Diana Hulme, associate director of the UW Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources.

The report begins with an accounting of population change, patterns of land use change, and the demographics of the growing rural population in Wyoming. It also covers community economic impacts resulting from additional services required to serve new, rural developments, as well as wildlife and other natural resource considerations. The report includes a mix of tables and figures on population growth as well as economic models. Public opinion polls on open space issues are also discussed.

"The 'State of Space' report provides baseline information about land use in Wyoming that we believe can be used as a tool to assist with community decisions about complex land use issues in the future," Hulme said.

The report was generated through the collaborative efforts of the Ruckelshaus Institute, the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database.


Posted on Friday, September 25, 2009

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