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Losing Ground To Urban Sprawl

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

alternatives. Sometimes the country lifestyle has more charm from a distance than it does up close. Do you really want to leave behind the services and conveniences of urban living? Do you really want to commute to work every day? The commute distance becomes even more important as gas prices soar.

If you are already or will be contributing to urban sprawl, soften your effect on nature by managing your yard or acreage for wildlife. Can you increase natural habitat by having less lawn? Plant native grasses, flowers, trees and shrubs. Encourage your neighbors to cooperate on a community project to establish larger blocks of natural habitat. Free advice is available from the Conservation Department.

Promote development patterns that encourage housing density in some places while leaving larger blocks of open space nearby. It's good conservation to subdivide an area so that houses with smaller yards are grouped together and all the neighbors, as well as wildlife, share large blocks of common space. This "natural commons" approach increases the amount of property available for the enjoyment of residents, while it leaves wildlife habitat intact.

Support efforts to protect key tracts of land in developing areas. Public land ownership, whether through state, city or county efforts, can help protect key blocks of natural resources from development. However, the government is not the only answer. Private efforts, such as land trusts or conservation easements, can effectively protect critical areas.

Get involved. If you have planning and zoning where you live (most cities and more than 20 counties do), pay attention to what's going on. You don't necessarily have to oppose development, but you can advocate for streams, forests and grasslands. Make certain city and county ordinances allow for more environmentally friendly practices such as conservation subdivisions and native landscaping. Good planning and zoning, aided by citizen involvement, can help protect Missouri's natural resources.

Incorporating Nature into Development

Cities, counties, developers, and builders can incorporate nature into the development process in several ways.

Identify and save key natural features on the site.

Save forested stream corridors and blocks of forests and prairies in yards or as part of common areas.

Use wetlands as part of storm water control systems.

Minimize impervious surfaces by reducing road and parking surfaces.

Fit buildings into the landscape to minimize grading and other construction impacts.

Require the planting of trees and re-establishment of native plants.

Make sure the green space forms a connected system that encourages safe wildlife travel.

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