The spatial relationship between exurban development and designated wilderness lands in the contiguous United States
Ginn, Allison Leigh
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The National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) provides recreational opportunities and preserves historic and ecological values. Continual increases in low-density residential development in the contiguous United States pose a threat along the boundaries of public lands and uniquely valuable Wilderness areas. Development within and around protected lands can affect land management and landscape ecology by increasing forest and wildlife habitat fragmentation, reducing air and water quality, and decreasing recreational opportunities and access. Wilderness areas are particularly affected by exurban and rural sprawl, because land development is inconsistent with the nature of wilderness and its associated values. This research summarizes amenity migration factors within ten miles of the NWPS. Additionally, this study identifies NWPS units likely to experience exurban development in the near future based on land ownership, accessibility and natural amenity draws at the local level.