Alternative future growth scenarios for Utah’s Wasatch Front: assessing the impacts of development on the loss of prime agricultural lands
Utah’s Wasatch front spans a narrow corridor from Ogden and Salt Lake City south to Provo. Current forecasts predict that the region’s population of 1.9 million will increase by 75% by 2030. This project developed a series of alternative future growth scenarios to predict the spread of future development within the 2.3 million ha study area. Satellite imagery from 1990 and 2000 was used to develop a logistic regression model to predict the probability of future development based on 30×30 m pixels. Independent variables included distance from roads and development, slope, location within city boundaries, and surrounding development density. Population forecasts were then allocated across the region at various assumed future settlements densities, and the resulting development footprint for the year 2030 was determined. We found that if future development increased from the current density of 15 people/ha to 25 people/ha, 36,900 fewer ha of open space would be lost to development. In addition, if future development occurs at the rate of 15 people/ha, the region will lose over 40,400 ha of prime agricultural lands over the next 30 years.