Developing Guidelines for the Community Land Conservation Planning Process: With an Analysis of the West Virginia New River Parkway Project
Efforts to establish land conservation, or the prudent use of land and its protection from indiscriminate use and development, have recently been on an upswing in the United States. Effective conservation initiatives accurately address appropriate land use issues, adequately protect resources, and provide for sustainable use and return of benefits to citizens affected by the conservation. Efficient conservation programs consider multiple perspectives on conservation issues and respond to pertinent public interests, thereby securing public support for conservation efforts and facilitating implementation of conservation plans. Conventional agency-driven and citizen-driven approaches to conservation do not adequately exhibit these desired characteristics. The development of a set of professional and community involvement standards as guidelines for land conservation planning processes may help address conservation needs. A derivation of planning guidelines for community land conservation, and a subsequent evaluation of conservation planning processes associated with the New River Parkway project in West Virginia are presented in this paper. The positive and negative aspects of the New River Parkway conservation planning process, in relation to the derived planning guidelines for community land conservation, are discussed and proposals are forwarded for improvements. The discussion demonstrates substantive results of the evaluation of a community land conservation planning processes in comparison to professional and community involvement planning guidelines. The research and evaluation methods proposed in this paper appear to produce useful results. If evaluation and revision of community land conservation efforts is pursued, as in the Parkway case study, toward meeting ideal planning guidelines, undesirable conservation planning processes may be replaced by processes leading to appropriate plans for effective and efficient community land conservation.