A new method is used to evaluate the strategic value of Fresno County farmland
Evan E. Schmidt, UC Davis
James H. Thorne, UC Davis
Patrick Huber, UC Davis
Nathaniel Roth, UC Davis
Edward Thompson, UC Davis
Michael McCoy, UC Davis
California Agriculture 64(3):129-134. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v064n03p129.
Fresno County is a rich agricultural area that faces rapid urbanization and farmland conversion. The county is participating in a strategic, multi-county planning initiative aimed at making sustainable and regionally cohesive land-use decisions. To inform this effort, we conducted a farmland conservation assessment and identified strategic farmlands for prioritization in future conservation efforts. We identified environmental and human predictor variables that affect the viability of existing farmland, used a geographic information system (GIS) to integrate them, and created a countywide strategic farmland conservation map. We compared our analysis to status quo methods of prioritization and found that with our model the spatial output of highly valued farmland was shifted, narrowed and located adjacent to some of the county's most urbanized areas. These findings are influencing growth policies and farmland conservation planning in Fresno County.
E.E. Schmidt is Recent Graduate, Geography Graduate Group, UC Davis. J.H. Thorne is Research Scientist, Information Center for the Environment (ICE), UC Davis. P. Huber is Postdoctoral Scholar, ICE, UC Davis. N. Roth is GIS Programmer, ICE, UC Davis. E. Thompson Jr. is California State Director, American Farmland Trust, UC Davis. M. McCoy is Director, Urban Land Use and Transportation Center, UC Davis.
The authors thank the American Farmland Trust, Council of Fresno County Governments, the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner's office, the Fresno County Farm Bureau, Jerry Prieto and Caltrans for support and/or funding.