Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Department

Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

First Advisor

Elizabeth Brabec

Abstract

Due to the continuity of energy and material flows, the persistence of an ecological network necessarily includes a linking of ecological units from local and immediate to regional and broad-ranging scales. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems acting as resource consumers and agents of change, and all systems can be considered combined 'socio-ecological' systems. Where environmental and social systems lack coordination, mismatches between the temporal, spatial or functional scales at which these systems operate lead to resource use inefficiencies and the loss of ecosystem components and functioning. This case study of Franklin County, Idaho documents a recent land use ordinance revision process to offer a critical evaluation of local institutional actions in the face of change. The case study serves to identify scale mismatches between institutional (social) and ecological facets of county governance and to develop potential solutions for those discrepancies.

Because no clear framing of complex land use issues served to coordinate a regulatory strategy for the County, the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code remained organized around individual land use issues rather than recognizing multi-scale linkages and limited the potential for cross-scale, cohesive governance of that social-ecological system. Two main influences emerged- the institutional framework and the nature of information used to make decisions. These were significant in contributing to scale mismatch because they shaped institutional problem framing which subsequently set policy outcomes. Despite such institutional limitations and limited problem framing, the findings of this case study imply that the Franklin County government possesses a basic organizational and communicative potential that could be harnessed to improve flexibility and synchronization in the regional governance of linked socioecological processes.

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