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Landscapes in transition: exploring the intersections between land use planning and water management in Henry's Fork Watershed, Idaho

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Title: Landscapes in transition: exploring the intersections between land use planning and water management in Henry's Fork Watershed, Idaho
Author: Liegel, Lora H.
Abstract: Watersheds throughout the arid western United States are experiencing rapid development. Urban, suburban, and resort developments are expanding onto previously irrigated agricultural lands, particularly in locations that also contain natural amenities such as mountains, rivers, and forests. This “landscape in transition” changes the way water is consumed and distributed and in some cases has led to tensions among water managers and users. The Henry’s Fork Watershed (HFW) in southeast Idaho is experiencing rapid development and is an area where ground and surface water are highly linked. While there is a large body of research that details the dynamic relationships between newer and longer-term residents in amenity rich locations, few studies have focused on how water management is affected by development processes. This study aimed to fill this gap by asking three questions: 1) How do changes in distribution and use of water due to development affect canal companies, 2) How are canal companies responding to these changes, and 3) How are land use planning policies taking water and environmental values into consideration? In-depth qualitative interviews revealed that canal companies have been impacted differently by city and county land use planning policies, development trends, and newer residents’ water management knowledge. Lack of communication among agricultural irrigators, development residents, and planning entities was a common theme. Examples of response to this landscape in transition included the creation of a development “checklist”, watering schedules, and the construction of development irrigation infrastructure. Quantitative analyses strengthened this study by showing the quantity, type, and location of development sites on irrigated agricultural lands and characterized municipal water consumption trends. It was found that 5 % of all potentially irrigable acres have been subdivided since 1970, but that this land conversion can be as high as 14% at the county scale. This in-depth, regional study of water use issues generated an analytical framework for investigating the impacts of socioeconomic transformations and possibilities for better integrating land use planning and water management in other watersheds of the interior western United States.
Description: Thesis (M.A.)--Humboldt State University, Social Science: Environment and Community, 2011
Date: 2011-04

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  • Masters Theses [874]
    A collection of selected Masters Theses in electronic format.

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