The state of Utah is home to a variety of unique and contrasting landscapes. These landscapes provide water, food, recreation, tourism, and a host of fundamental values to residents and visitors. Because of its appeal, Utah’s population is growing rapidly along the urbanized areas of the Wasatch Front and encroaching upon once rural areas of the state. Increasingly the state’s mountains, lakes, wetlands, and deserts constrain potential sites for new development. This oftentimes leads to development on steep slopes, floodplains, wetlands, riparian zones, farmland, and areas of prime wildlife habitat. Despite this demand, it is critical that some lands are left to perform their natural function. As a result, proactive measures are needed to conserve Utah’s critical lands while accommodating future growth.
Perhaps the most important measure that can be taken to protect Utah’s future is to promote quality growth. Quality growth requires a balance between the protection of critical lands and the requisite development of residential, commercial, and industrial land to accommodate an ever-expanding economy and population. Many communities, however, lack the funds, resources, or staff needed to identify these critical lands, thus leading to an unbalanced system that favors unchecked and costly development.
This toolkit is intended to aid communities in defining, identifying, inventorying, mapping, and prioritizing their critical lands in an effort to achieve a balance between conservation and development. It provides objective data that can be used to cooperate with private landowners to protect property rights and achieve mutual goals in landuse planning. The toolkit is easy to use. This toolkit is comprised of a “Critical Lands Encyclopedia” that explains what critical lands are and why it is important that they be considered in future landuse decisions. It also includes a section on implementation procedures and incentives that can be used to accomplish critical lands planning. Perhaps the most exciting part of the toolkit is the interactive on-line critical lands mapping tool. The mapping tool, which is a Geographic Information System (GIS) based program, is designed to assist communities in creating maps that not only identify their critical lands, but prioritizes them as well. This toolkit is the first step in creating a critical lands plan for your community.
Download the entire Critical Lands Planning Toolkit here:
For more information,
Laura Ault, GOPB