From an economic stand point, as the Kuznets (Stern 2014) curve points out, the poorer a society is the less concerned it is with its environment. As incomes rise the concern for the environment rises The hypothesis coincides with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Basically stating that as a human’s basic needs are fulfilled a hirer mental and emotional evolution occurs and one becomes more existentially aware of needs outside of one’s self. Therefore, as society in the United States has evolved a deep compassion and recognition for the value of the environment has occurred. It is the roll of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to regulate urban growth and expansion with the environment in mind.
Urban sprawl is often demonized by environmentalist, social scientists, and in some cases economists. They often use the excuse of environmental contamination to exploit, advance, and perpetuate their ideas of social control. Arthur C. Nelson, Ph.D. put it this way in the article Reducing Sprawl Has Advantages over Conventional Planning, that the large expanse and scattered development manifest a host of environmental and social challenges. For example, Nelson claims that urban sprawl is responsible for traffic congestion environmental contamination income and racial segregation, job and housing mismatch, local fiscal disparities, and premature conversion of farm land to urban use (Nelson 2014, p.1).
It is true for example that those who live in the out skirts of the inner city do create traffic congestion, and I’ll call it social segregation rather than racial segregation, because racial segregation is just not accurate. So if everyone is clumped into small areas and we all live in apartments owned by powerful land owners, and pay rent, and never own land of our own, if all we need for transportation is a bike a public train or bus and an elevator for our entire existence then we are then controlled entirely by some governing source that dictates what is best for everyone and everything within their estimated control.
While the social utopia that theses groups would like to aspire to might seem grand there are many reasons why the suburban knights, (Those who prefer to live outside of the inner city), like myself, are dedicated to social and economic autonomy. First we like to go where we want to go when we want to go. We don’t want to wait for a bus or a train and we don’t want anyone telling us what we can and can’t do and when we can and can’t do it. Another thing is a lot of people who live inside the city gates have poor hygiene, and horrible social habits. Frankly there are certain types of people suburban knights would rather not be around and those are the primary reasons we stay away from living inside the city gates.
Now as far as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is concerned, and conservation efforts in that respect it is much easier to discuss. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, mandates that they manage public land and resources, which includes 221 Wilderness Areas totaling 8.7 million acres, as well as 16 National Monuments comprising 4.8 million acres (BLM 2014, p1). In the out skirts of Portland Oregon there is a creek that runs from East Clackamas to the Columbia River named Johnson creek. In the early 1970’s the creek had become so polluted that the fish that had thrived there but only a decade before were gone. The creek was filled with muck from land erosion. It was used for dumping and there were tires and refrigerators in the creek. One could only wonder why folks would do such a thing.
Fortunately, the BLM got involved and awareness for the environment started to take place. Conservation efforts included cleaning the creek and restoring fish habitat. By re installing the proper foliage at the creek’s bank the erosion problems were addressed and the creeks ecosystem and fish habitat have returned. By working with man and nature the Jonson creek area now flourishes with wild life and recreation. It is filled with parks and scenic trails along the Spring Water Corridor, which is a long paved trail that runs from Boring Oregon to down town Portland (Springwater, 2014 p.1).
The Spring Water corridor exemplifies urban sprawl at its best. It is the way money should be spent. It allows man to enjoy nature to the fullest, while protecting the environment (Stern, 2014 p. 1). Clustering us all into to a nice neat little package is insulting. It is not the way that we were all intended to be. However, for many people the inner city living is ideal. Many people like the close connection of the inner city, shopping within walking distance, and multi-family dwelling.
BLM, (2014) The Bureau of Land Management: Who We Are, What We Do. Webb Retrieved Aug1, 2014 http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/About_BLM.html
Springwater, (2014) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Web, Retrieved Aug 1, 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springwater_Corridor
Stern David, (2014) International Society for Ecological Economics Internet Encyclopedia of Ecological Economics, The Environmental Kuznets Curve. Web Retrieved Aug 1, 2014 http://isecoeco.org/pdf/stern.pdf