Elisabeth Hamin, Chair - Michael DiPasquale, Member
Land preservation can be an important planning tool when used as part of a strategic and comprehensive vision. This planning process is complicated, however, by the diversity of functions and values associated with open space and the large number of potential stakeholders with an interest in the issue.
This project examined alternative ways to approach the development of an open space plan and observed the interaction between competing forces during the planning process in the small rural community of Jaffrey, NH. One of the main issues examined was whether identification of potentially valuable open space would have different results when approached from a people-centric perspective as opposed to a natural resource-centric perspective.
In this case study, it was found that resource-centric mapping tended to identify valuable lands in relatively small, discrete patches. This type of analysis resulted in a fractured view of high-value land that failed to identify the corridors that would be necessary to unite the patches into a cohesive network of linked landscapes. On the other hand, identification of valuable lands through the use of public focus sessions tended to result in broader swaths of targeted land. This resulted in a more comprehensive view of the landscape than that obtained from the strictly resource-based mapping.
With both approaches having elements to recommend them, a multi-faceted approach involving both scientific analysis and public input seems to be the optimal approach to open space mapping. This will require more expenditure of time and effort early in the planning process, but will be more comprehensive and will have political benefits at the back end when it comes to selling the plan to the public.