When we think of suburban sprawl, we tend to think minimalls and subdivisions. But some of the environmentally worst sprawl is rural -- big houses on big lots with big lots. It may look like country living, and thus seem natural, but the disturbance caused by such "hintersprawl" wreaks havoc on natural systems:
[I]t doesn't take a lot of pavement to hurt a stream: within a watershed, if one acre in ten is paved, stream quality declines, and once one in four is paved, streams often can't even maintain basic channel stability or fish habitat.
Case in point? Washington's Skykomish River. McMansions are rapidly overrunning the farmlands and forests through which it runs, leading the NGO American Rivers to declare it the fourth most endangered river in the U.S.. But it's not too late to save the Skykomish, if local officials will adopt a smart growth approach.
But it's hard to build a future you can't imagine. To help people living around the Skykomish imagine their possible futures, our friends at CommEnSpace put together a brilliant set of GIS-based scenaric maps, visualizations of two towns on the Skykomish as they either grow smart or sprawl.
This is terrific work, and points the way to how better technologically-mediated understandings of the land around us can help us make better decisions.
Thanks for this story. I blogged it and hope it shows up as a trackback for you. People just don't seem to realise what they are destroying, or even THAT they are destroying...thanks for what you do.