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In recent years, counties in the Intermountain West (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah) have experienced rapid population growth and housing development, and much of this growth is occurring outside of urban areas. Residential development often has negative impacts on farmlands, farm viability, and environmental services provided by working landscapes. We used county-level data to identify the association between the intensity and spatial patterns of residential settlement and trends in selected farm outcomes between 1997 and 2012 in the region. Results demonstrate that accounting for the spatial pattern or degree of fragmentation and clustering of rural and exurban residential development improves our ability to explain variation in county-level agricultural trends. We also found evidence of significant spatial dependencies among the counties in this region, which suggests that trends in one county are affected by development and agricultural activity in neighboring counties. Findings suggest that efforts to protect farming using growth management tools can work, but should focus on separation of agriculture and potentially conflicting land uses.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.