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UW Effort Helps Land Use Planning in Wyoming Cities, Counties

May 4, 2011

A new University of Wyoming initiative will assist land use development planning in cities and counties throughout Wyoming.

Scott Lieske has been hired, with support from the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowment, as the project manager for the first two years of the initiative. Lieske, a UW Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics research scientist, will work with community development and education groups throughout the state and in collaboration with UW Cooperative Extension Service programs in community development education.

The effort is jointly hosted by the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC) at UW.

The goal is to expand opportunities for citizens and organizations across Wyoming to apply geospatial tools for economic and social benefit, says Jeff Hamerlinck, WyGISC director. Research and extension duties will assist communities in building capacity to use geospatial decision support tools including geographic information systems (GIS), spatial decision support systems, spatial modeling and systems analysis, he adds.

Lieske will focus on research and outreach to Wyoming communities in community planning, public finance, economic development and environmental assessment support, says Roger Coupal, associate professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

"Regions and communities are often confronted with development concentrated in some areas and passing by others," Coupal says. "This creates spatially differentiated fiscal and environmental benefits and costs to different groups of residents and businesses. This initiative will help address such issues by focus on the nexus between community planning and development and geospatial tool implementation and development."

The initiative is an opportunity to expand on work WyGISC has been doing on GIS applications in local government planning through the Plan-IT Wyoming initiative over the last five to six years, Hamerlinck says.

"Not only is this a way to continue partnering on land use and planning issues with groups on campus like the graduate planning program in the Department of Geography and the Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, but it's also an opportunity to strengthen connections with other community planning groups around the state like Building the Wyoming We Want and The Wyoming Planning Association," he says.

UW's program is modeled in part upon the national geospatial extension program, which can be viewed at the website Nine states have a geospatial extension specialist or program. In each state, the specialist serves as a conduit between research, applications development and practice.

For more information, visit the website at

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