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Nature_and_Environment.12

Urban Sprawl: Issues and Alternatives

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{Nature_and_Environment.12.5}: Kai Hagen {kai} Fri, 05 Mar 2004 08:15:58 CST (69 lines)
{HTML source}

Unfortunately, it's been true for a long time that urban/suburban.exurban sprawl is
largely on the better (and best) agricultural soils.

It isn't surprising, really, given that metropolitan areas and such soils tend to be in
lower and flatter areas, near rivers.

It's true where I live, too.

<b>Land: Agriculture and Urban Sprawl</b>

"According to the American Farmland Trust, the United States is losing as much
topsoil to urban sprawl as it is saving through programs like the Conservation
Reserve Program. According to the Trust, from 1982 to 1992 Texas lost
approximately 489,000 acres of prime farmland to suburbs—more than any other
state during that period. Two regions in the state were most affected: the Texas
Blackland Prairie and the Lower Rio Grande Plain."

http://www.texasep.org/html/lnd/lnd_2agr_sprawl.html

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<b>Sprawling over croplands.(urban sprawl eats up agriculture)</b>

"Urban sprawl has been grabbing headlines because it lengthens commutes, creates
heat islands, and alters local weather (SN: 3/27/99, p. 198). Less attention has
focused on what the cities sprawl over. Satellite surveys now indicate that the best
croplands are disproportionately giving way to cement and asphalt."

http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1200/10_157/61233871/p1/article.jhtml

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<b>Assessing the Impact of Urban Sprawl on Soil Resources in the United States
Using Nighttime "City Lights" Satellite Images  and Digital Soils Maps</b>

"The conversion of natural systems to agricultural production has been the primary
basis for the successful growth of human populations for the last 9,000 years (Kates
et al. 1990). The conflict between urban and agricultural land use, however, is only
now becoming a subject of controversy. The transformation of productive agricultural
land to urban use under burgeoning populations has become a contentious element
in debates over sustainable development and food security (Ehrlich 1989; Daily and
Ehrlich 1992; Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1992). As more land is converted to urban uses, the
question arises as to whether this trend represents a systematic reduction in our
ability to produce food by placing our infrastructure on the most productive soil
resources. A disturbing consequence of this urbanization process is a growing
dependence on ever greater yields per unit area (on soils that remain) or a reliance on
more distant soil resources and agricultural production."

http://biology.usgs.gov/luhna/chap3.html

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<b>California Planning Roundtable: Sprawl and Agriculture</b>

"Suburban growth in the San Joaquin Valley has had a significant effect on farmland
acreage. From 1987 to 1992, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture,
close to 459,000 acres were lost. Over the 10-year period of 1982 to 1992, the
decline of more than 870,000 acres represented 8% of the Valley's agricultural
acreage and 27% of all farmland lost in the State.

 Interestingly, these changes may not fully describe the effect on agriculture because
they do not take into account the quality of soils lost or gained. Prime agricultural
lands in the "flatlands" (which are located near existing urban services) are preferred
by those engaged in both agriculture and residential construction. Hence, one of the
consequences of development on the urban fringe (the dominant pattern) has been
the loss of prime farmland and the addition of lower quality soils to the agricultural
inventory."

http://www.cproundtable.org/cprwww/docs/bbs/bbs02.htm

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