Beyond the Urban Fringe

Land Use Issues in Nonmetropolitan America

Rutherford H. Platt and George Macinko, editors


The non-metropolitan hinterland of the United States is no longer the placid and bucolic countryside celebrated by Currier and Ives. As urban America imposes ever-increasing demands upon the nation’s resources, energy, water, food, recreation and scenery, peace and quiet are all sought in the land beyond the urban fringe. Certain dramatic changes in non-metropolitan America are already apparent. Census figures from 1980 documented that the population of rural areas and small towns was increasing more rapidly than that of metropolitan areas or the nation as a whole. The interstate highway network affords unprecedented access to small cities and towns, broadening commuting patterns and enabling industries to relocate outside of cities. During the 1960s and 1970s millions of acres were carved yo for second homes and recreational developments, a practice which often inflated the price of rural land.

Beyond the Urban Fringe deals with problems arising from this transformation of non-metropolitan America. It is based on reports given at a 1980 conference sponsored by the Association of American Geographers and funded by the National Science Foundation, with the participation of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Office of Water Research and Technology. The authors represent a wide range of disciplines - geography, resource economics, rural sociology, planning, law, and physics - and deal with topics not often found in a single volume: the character of land-use change in non-metropolitan areas, rural economic growth and decline, the rural land market, the growth and decline of small towns, farmland policy, remote sensing in rural areas, the impact of energy development on land use, hazardous waste disposal, and nuclear plant siting in non-urban areas. Geographers, planners, resource economists, and others concerned with environmental and resource management will find Beyond the Urban Fringe a valuable source of current research on a subject of central importance at all levels of government.

Rutherford H. Platt is Professor of Land and Water Resource Policy Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts.

George Macinko is Professor of Geography Emeritus at Central Washington University.

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