The Role of The Conservation Reserve Program in Controlling Rural Residential Development

Rural population growth in the form of residential development frequently results in the loss of agricultural productive land as well as loss of adjacent open space that often characterizes rural communities. A land-use prediction model was used to determine what influence the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) may have on urban sprawl and rural community sustainability. The model demonstrated that the projected mean rural residential growth rate was almost half the growth rate with CRP as compared to without CRP in the local land management mix. In addition, ecosystem integrity on the land surrounding a rural community was sharply increased with the introduction of CRP. However, community economics and subsequent social character of the community may have been significantly impacted by CRP. In order to partially mitigate CRP-induced community impacts we propose future CRP guidelines support the establishment of within-production field scale ecological refuges. These refuges would satisfy the conservation requirements of the program, return a level of traditional agricultural production to the land management mix, and provide the adjacent community with aesthetic and recreational amenities that are frequently associated with modern rural economies.

Jerry Johnson and Bruce Maxwell
Bristol, UK: Journal of Rural Studies
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Publication Date: 
July 1, 2001
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