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Developing long-term urbanization scenarios for the Appalachian and Gulf Coastal Plain and Ozarks LCCs as part of the Southeast Regional Assessment Project

Traditional urban growth models are very localized and data-intensive and lack the capability to be applied across large regions, in response to these limitations the North Carolina Cooperative Research Unit began using the USGS SLEUTH urban growth model to develop urbanization scenarios as part of the Southeast Regional Assessment Project (SERAP). Extensive modifications of the model framework and calibration were undertaken that resulted in the ability to rapidly develop urbanization scenarios for very large regions, such as the Appalachian and Gulf Coastal Plain Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). This new modeling effort allows LCC’s to address fundamental questions that affect conservation planning over decadal time scales.

These particular LCCs have experienced both rapid exurban growth (e.g. Atlanta, Houston, Nashville, and Washington D.C.) as well as population decline across Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, eastern Ohio, and central Pennsylvania. Regions of particular interest may include (but are not limited to) simulating population change in the New Orleans-Baton Rouge metropolitan region post-Katrina, urbanization pressures along the Alabama Gulf Coast and Florida panhandle regions, or exurban development pressure on Appalachian habitat corridors in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. Thus changing urbanization patterns in this region may present special challenges or opportunities for conservation over the coming decades that require additional collaboration in this modeling effort.

Funding for this project was provided by the DOI SE Climate Science Center. Total funding for this project is $72,000. Funding levels in FY11 are $39,000, while funding levels in FY12 are $33,000.

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