Urban Encroachment on Agriculture in Term Paper

In 2005, the average population density was 89 persons per square mile, and the majority of the population is located in southern California, the San Francisco Bay area, and the Central Valley (MSN Encarta, 2006). The sections below examine the geographical patterns of California in relation to the issue of urban encroachment.

Literature Review

Many researchers have studies the historical patterns of agriculture in California and have determined that it’s loss is quickly approaching. These researchers have studied the decline of agriculture as a result of urban encroachment. Researchers have defined urban “encroachment” as consisting of related growth, noise, and environmental issues. Research by Grunwald (1993), involved an analysis of the probable pattern of urbanization in California as indicated by the study of current trends. This study concluded that if existing trends continued, the increase of urban and metropolitan growth along Highway 99 in California would eliminate any sense of travel through an agricultural region that comprises most of Highway 99 today. Additionally, the Grunwald (1993) research concluded that new sources of water need to be tapped for interregional transport to the Central Valley from Northern California, because the demands would be too high. Grunwald (1993) concludes that urban demands for water would be satiable only by the permanent sale of agricultural water rights to urban water agencies in the valley. This research recommends actions that the California state government needs to take, such as a regional approach to decision-making. This regional approach to decision-making, according to Grunwald (1993), would be regional planning that recognizes the need for an immediate approach between the extremes of regional government organization at the local level and at the state level.

Grunwald’s 1993 research explains how the state exercise of authority must extent broader than what is presently provided by currently existing statutes. According to Grunwald (1993), the present day planning policies of the state are not as strong as they were in the 1960’s when water, highway, recreation and higher education planning had peaked. Other researchers have built on Grunwald’s research and as a result, have highlighted the importance of urban planning for the preservation of agriculture in California’s future. An environmental management plan is a plan that describes the processes that an organization will follow to maximize its’ compliance and minimize harm to the environment. It supports an environmental assessment because an environmental management plan assist an organization in mapping it’s progress toward achieving continual improvements. The level and detail of an environmental assessment plan varies based on the type of organization, the complexity of its processes and the maturity of the organization in understanding its environmental responsibilities. According to the research, all plans consist of: 1) policy, 2) planning, 3) implementation and operation, 4) checking and corrective action, and 5) management review and commitment to improvement. After the assessment is completed, the organization can match the assessment to an overall policy and planning phase that will help anchor the organization to a core set of beliefs, or environmental guiding principles that will keep all organization members on the right track.

While some research studies have focused on the affects of urban encroachment on agriculture, other studies have included species in their studies of urbanization, since wild species populations have some effect on agricultural patterns. Some research regarding the affects of urban encroachment in Northern California note the effects on endangered and threatened species habitats. Some researchers have studied nature as it is harmed by the spread of military operations, which is a form of urban encroachment that is notably increasing. Research on the effects of urban encroachment as a result of military operations in California by Landis and Reilly (2001), indicate that more than half of California’s plant and animal species are listed as threatened or endangered, and many of California’s larger military operations contain large areas of these habitats. The California Department of Finance (DOF) estimates that California’s population will grow by more than 10 million persons between 2000 and 2020. More than 90% of California’s population growth will occur within existing metropolitan areas, and almost 60% will occur in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Ventura County (Landis & Reilly, 2001). Studies by Landis and Reilly (2001) conclude that with respect to future urban encroachment, where population growth occurs is as important as how much occurs.

Many researchers have studies the affects of geographical indicators of where people settle in relation to urban encroachment in California. These researchers have used patterns and trends derived from historical data on urban growth to project the future shape and extent of urban areas. Teitz et.al. (2005), uses an accommodating urban development scenario, that assumes that the underlying urbanization patterns of the last 60 years will continue 40 years into the future. According to Teitz et.al., this scenario assumes no significant regional constraints on urban growth will occur. This is a realistic expectation due to the fact that the San Joaquin Valley has very few natural obstacles that would prevent growth, such as mountains. Additionally, there are very little federally protected lands that do not allow for new developments. This analysis by Teitz et.al. (2005) differs from Landis and Reilly (2001)’s research slightly, in that Landis and Reilly do not address the issue of unprotected lands.

Landis and Reilly (2001) studied the issues surrounding threatened and endangered species as compared with major military installation locations. Landis and Reilly (2001) studied past urbanization patterns and military locations, and determined that military development occurred on undeveloped lands, where wild species cultivated. Their research used indicators to measure the amount, quality, and share of threatened and endangered vertebrate species habitat within the boundaries of each military location. For example, For example, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, the urban development in 1996 was 8%. This is projected to increase to 50% by 2020. At the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, in 1996 the urban development was 85%, but is only projected to increase to 86% in 2020. At Camp Pendleton, the urban development for 1996 was 9%, expected to increase to 16% by 2020. They examined many more military locations in California and concluded that the military locations most likely to be immediately impacted by future urban growth were those at the fringe of fast growing suburban counties (Landis & Reilly, 2001). Their research is summarized in Chart 2, which depicts the forecasted urbanization development on California military bases.

They found that locations in more remote areas would be less likely to suffer immediate urban encroachment, as illustrated by the predicted growth for the location in Monterey. The research also concluded that while most California military locations will suffer from increasing urban encroachment, the largest encroachment impacts will be limited to just a few locations. Another study conducted in 1995 by the American Farmland Trust, examined urban encroachment in a smaller area that extended from Sutter County to Kern County. This study concluded the following regarding the loss of agricultural lands: 1) Housing should be better designed with somewhat higher densities overall; 2) Fragmented urban sprawl should be ended and replaced by contiguous urban growth and infill of vacant lands; 3) The most important farmland be designated as strategic agricultural reserve, with a secure supply of affordable water; and 4) The creation of an officially sanctioned public or private task force, or commission to lay the groundwork for further action to achieve more compact and efficient urban growth (American Farmland Trust, 1995). This study concluded the same main finding of Grunwald’s (1993) research, that the anticipated urban pattern will ultimately lead to a trend in agricultural loss.

Teitz et.al. (2005) also address the issue of agricultural loss in their analysis of the prime farmland conservation scenario, which permits “urbanization to continue following the historical pattern but prohibits urbanization of all 3.2 million acres of prime farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.” This research states that this land is available for urban development, but is protected as “farmland of statewide importance.” Teitz et.al.’s 2005 research also analyzes proposals for a high speed rail system that are currently underway to connect the Bay Area and Sacramento to Los Angeles. Under this scenario, the researchers predict that the probability of urbanization will increase within a 20-mile radius of the stations. The positive side to this analysis is that the urbanization is predicted to stay within the 20-mile radius of the rail stations, and would not go outside this radius. Finally, research by this group also assumes that Highway 65 will be extended and upgraded, and would increase east-west routes. The increase of east-west routes would result in new development along these routes, and growth would occur along the sides of the highway. Other researchers have built on this research, and have mapped out results of these predictions and how agricultural patterns in California would be affected.

Platzek and Cone (1998) studied population growth and urban encroachment over a longer period of time than most of the other researchers estimated. They studied California’s…

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