Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Marla K. Nelson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Renia Ehrenfeucht, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Shirley Laska, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Timothy Beatley, Ph.D.


A fundamental purpose of state-mandated growth management has been to infuse regional environmental concerns into local land use planning. Similarly, collaborative ecosystem planning efforts have attempted to encourage local communities to participate in regional planning efforts, and to adopt regional environmental goals and objectives into local land use plans. This paper presents results from a study of state-mandated local planning and collaborative regional planning, addressing in particular local ability to adopt and implement ecosystem planning initiatives for development management.

I found that a state mandate not only achieves plans from communities that would not otherwise plan, but also the plans produced are of higher quality than plans made voluntarily without a mandate. However, while these plans generally acknowledge the need for regional resource protection, local plans are rarely go beyond stating support for State minimum resource protection rules. Conversely, I found that participation in a regional ecosystem planning effort had little effect on local land use policy. Within this context, key factors yielding more environmentally focused planning and implementation included local commitment to ecosystem planning, development pressure, and recent natural hazard impacts. Key factors steering communities away from ecosystem management included poor economic conditions, a desire to maintain local autonomy, and consultant-driven planning processes. Challenges for all communities include the ability to adopt policies that address biodiversity and regionally significant landscapes.


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