Date of Award:

5-2020

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Department:

Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Advisor/Chair:

Carlos V. Licon

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Ole R. Sleipness

Third Advisor:

Barty Warren-Kretzschmar

Abstract

Assessing the sustainability of communities is important for planners and citizens alike. Sustainability plays a central role in forming healthy, successful communities and in planning for responsible growth and development. Most current sustainability evaluations favor urban environments due to their high densities and resulting efficiencies, leaving rural areas labeled “unsustainable” because of their decentralized growth patterns. Characterized as “not urban,” they fall short of urban sustainability benchmarks (Isserman, 2005). The importance of rural sustainability to both small communities and regions leads to the question: how can rural sustainability be characterized and assessed?

This study applies a comparative assessment model to evaluate sustainable development possibilities for over two hundred counties in the Intermountain West. Rural sustainability measures have been identified and applied to the assessment model to evaluate ways in which rural criteria is integrated into regional sustainability. This both illuminates the importance of specific rural indicators to sustainable development and provides planners with an operational tool to assess rural sustainability within their own counties.

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