Supplementary Material for Chapter 20

Supplementary Material for Chapter 20

Supplementary Material for Chapter 20

Location, Location, Location! Analyzing Residential Development in Environmentally-Fragile Areas

This chapter is published as:

Morin EA. 2016. Location, Location, Location! Analyzing Residential Development in Environmentally-Fragile Areas. In: Byrne L (ed) Learner-Centered Teaching Activities for Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Springer, New York. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-28543-6_20

Erica A. Morin

Department of History, Westfield State University, Westfield, MA USA

This file contains the following supplementary material:

  • A: Instructor’s Guide Materials … beginning on p. 1
  • B: Examples of towns in environmentally-fragile areas … beginning on p. 3
  • D: In-Class Activity Worksheet … beginning on p. 6
  • E: Diagram of Brainstorming Activity … beginning on p. 7

This chapter also has the following supplementary material, available on the chapter’s website:

  • C: Presentation Slides

Supplementary Material A: Instructor’s Guide Materials

Additional readings and resources for instructor preparation

The following list offers suggestions for additional readings to help with instructor planning and background context. These readings will familiarize the instructor with general process of home construction and certain environmental areas that are extremely fragile and ill-suited for residential development, as well as introductory information about sustainable development initiatiaves.

Duany, A., Plater-Zyberk, E., & Speck, J. (2010). Suburban nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream. New York, NY: North Point Press.

Duany, A., Speck, J., & Lydon, M. (2009). The smart growth manual. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Environmental Protection Agency. (2015). Ecoregions. Retrieved on April 10, 2015 from

Environmental Protection Agency. (2015). Natural disasters. Retrieved on April 10, 2015 from

Friedman, A. (2007). Sustainable residential development: Planning and design for green neighborhood. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Jabareen, Y.R. (2006). Sustainable urban forms their typologies, models, and concepts. Journal of Planning Education and Research 26(1), 38-52. doi: 10.1177/0739456X05285119

Mileti, D. (1999). Disasters by design: A reassessment of natural hazards in the United States. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.

National Home Builders Association (2015). Housing topics: Environment. Retrieved on April 10, 2015 from

Pauleit, S. & Duhme F. (2000) Assessing the environmental performance of land cover types for urban planning. Landscape and Urban Planning, 52 (1), 1-20. doi:10.1016/S0169-2046(00)00109-2

Sustainable Sites Initiative (2015). Sustainable sites. Retrieved on April 10, 2015 from

Suggestion for student reading assignments

The following list offers suggestions for readings assignments for students to complete prior to the in-class activity. A pre-reading can give the students a baseline of common knowledge and can be used to familiarize students with the concerns of residential siting and construction and/or ecological conditions in different portions of the country, based on the topic of the course and the intent of the instructor. Further, incorporating a brief discussion of the reading into class time helps to establish accountability and allow students to compare their understanding of the reading content. This reading discussion can be woven into the brainstorming activity, or completed separately, depending on the instructor’s preference. Instructors may select one or more of the following readings depending on course topic and class level.

Campbell, S. (1996). Green cities, growing cities, just cities?: Urban planning and the contradictions of sustainable development. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62(3), 296-312. Retrieved from

Daniels, T. L., & Lapping, M. B. (1996). The two rural Americas need more, not less planning. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62(3), 285-288. Retrieved from

Grant, J., Manuel, P., & Joudrey, D. (1996). A framework for planning sustainable residential landscapes. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62(3), 331-344. Retrieved from

Hansen, A.J., Knight, R.L., Marzluff, J.M., Powell, S., Brown, K., Gude, P.H., & Jones, K. (2005). Effects of exurban development on biodiversity: Patterns, mechanisms, and research needs. Ecological Applications, 15(6), 1893-1905. Retrieved April 10, 2015 from

Johnson, M.P. (2001). Environmental impacts of urban sprawl: a survey of the literature and proposed research agenda. Environment and Planning A, 33(4), 717-735. Retrieved April 10, 2015 from

Maseroza, M., Bailey, M., & Kerchner, C. (2007) Distribution of impacts of natural disasters across income groups: A case study of New Orleans. Ecological Economics, 63, 299-306. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon. 2006.06.013

Nechyba, T.J., & Walsh, R.P. (2004). Urban sprawl. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(4), 177-200. Retrieved April 10, 2015 from

Rome, A. (2001). Where not to build: The campaigns to protect wetlands, hillsides, and floodplains. In The bulldozer and the countryside: Suburban sprawl and the rise of American environmentalism. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Schmidt, C. W. (2004). Sprawl: The New Manifest Destiny? Environmental Health Perspectives, 112(11), A620–A627. Retrieved on April 10, 2015 from

Smolka, A. (2006). Natural disasters and the challenge of extreme events: Risk management from an insurance perspective. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 364(1845), 2147-2165. doi:10.1098/rsta.2006.1818

Speir, C., & Stephenson, K. (2002). Does sprawl cost us all?: Isolating the effects of housing patterns on public water and sewer costs. Journal of the American Planning Association, 68(1), 56-70. doi:10.1080/01944360208977191

Supplementary Material B: Examples of towns in environmentally-fragile areas

Note: The following town summaries were derived from their Wikipedia entries and Google maps, unless otherwise noted with citations. These summaries represent the type of information that students should be able to find with 10-15 minutes of in-class research.

Beaufort, North Carolina

Located on the southern end of the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, Beaufort’s ecology and geography consists of fragile coastal marshes and barrier islands. Rich in history and scenery, Beaufort is a popular tourist destination, leading to greater demand for vacation accommodations and amenities. Additionally, the area is very susceptible to Atlantic hurricanes and plagued by issues of wind and water erosion. In 2011, Hurricane Irene made landfall just south of Beaufort, causing extensive damage to the town (NOAA, 2011).

Cairo, Illinois

Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, Cairo is incredibly prone to flooding. In addition, Cairo has the lowest elevation in the state of Illinois, putting it even closer to sea level and flood zones. The massive rivers are kept at bay by earthen levees surrounding the city, but Cairo still experiences high water and flooding every year. Some years are worse than others, such as in 2011 when the Mississippi River reached 61.25 feet, over 20 feet above the safe level of 40.0 feet. That year the Army Corps of Engineers made the choice to blow up levees north of Cairo and flood thousands of acres of farmland to prevent total inundation of the town (Welch, 2011). While initially vital to Mississippi and Ohio River trade in the 1800s, the town’s population has shrunk to less than 3,000 in recent years and the course of the rivers will not change any time soon.

Cascade, Colorado

The town of Cascade is located in the Rocky Mountains, approximately 5 miles northwest of Colorado Springs. In 2012, a forest fire began in Waldo Canyon near Cascade. The fire spread throughout Pike National Forest and several adjoining towns. The blaze raged for two and a half weeks, burned over 18,000 acres of forest, and destroyed nearly 350 homes (Mitchell, 2012). The following year, another forest fire broke out in Black Forest, Colorado, only 15 miles away, indicating a propensity for wildfires in this area.

Greensburg, Kansas

In the heart of the Midwest, Greensburg is located in the middle of tornado alley. In the past 60 years, the Greensburg area has experienced 10-15 instances of tornado activity per year. One of the worst tornados in recorded history occurred in 2007. An F5 tornado (the most severe on the Fujita scale) approximately 1.7 miles wide destroyed 95% of the town. Local building codes are quite stringent, requiring strengthened roofs and foundation fittings, as well as storm cellars or shelters.

Hollister, California

Bisected by the Calaveras branch of San Andreas Fault, Hollister experiences frequent, severe seismic activity. Buildings, homes, and roads throughout the town show visible signs of aseismic creep, or shifting of the ground caused by the surface in motion. Many residences are distorted but still inhabited, and tremors are a fact of life in Hollister.

Homestead, Florida

Located in the southeastern portion of Miami-Dade County, Homestead is a rapidly growing suburban community for the Miami Metro area. However, Homestead also borders Everglades National Park to the west and coastal Biscayne National Park to the east. These National Parks contain delicate wetland and reef habitats, multiple varieties of endangered wildlife, and carry out valuable ecological processes. Residential development causes increased water contamination in these fragile ecosystems, as well as pressure to backfill more wetlands.

LaConchita, California

Nestled along the narrow coastal plains of southern California, La Conchita is flanked by the Pacific Ocean and Rincon Mountain giving it a sense of privacy and beautiful seaside views. However, this location also has a well-documented and tragic history of landslides. During and after periods of record rainfall, the slope of the mountains has given way on multiple occasions causing large water and sediment flows. The town is located at the base of the prehistoric Rincon Slide and will likely continue to experience disasters as the land recedes into the ocean.

Mead, Colorado

In the past 5 years, large portions in and around the town of Mead have been leased to Halliburton Corporation to pursue hydraulic fracturing. The practice of fracking has caused severe ground pollution, as well as depleting and contaminating the scarce local water supply. Families from the town of Mead were featured in the documentary Gas Land, in which tap water was lit on fire (Carroll, 2011).

Mears, Michigan

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Mears borders Silver Lake State Park within the unique Lake Michigan sand dunes ecosystem. Formed by glacial deposits and thousands of years of wind and water movement, the massive white sand dunes of Lake Michigan are stabilized by a rare and delicate combination of vegetation. While the “sugar soft” sand and picturesque views are very desirable for tourism and home construction, any pressure on the dunes landscape, even foot traffic, can be catastrophic. Additionally, the town of Mears allows “dune cruising” in personal vehicles and ATVs in some locations, which is very environmentally destructive to the area.

Yerington, Nevada

The town of Yerington is located in one of the most arid regions of the United States. According to the Köppen climate classification, Yerington has a BWh hot desert climate akin to the Mojave or Sahara Desert. Due to its position in the “rain shadow” of the Sierra Nevada Mountain, the town receives only 5 inches of precipitation on average per year =. There is no form of accessible groundwater in Yerington and residents of the region must rely on reservoirs along the poorly-sourced and overly utilized Walker River (Yerington, 2007).

Sources consulted

Carroll. V. (2011, January 30). Gasland vs. Colorado. The Denver Post. Retrieved from

Mitchell, K. (2012, July 7). Colorado wildfire: Waldo Canyon fire containment delayed until Sunday. The Denver Post. Retrieved from

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (2001). Hurricane Irene, August 26-27, 2011. Retrieved from

Welch W.M. and D. Rice. (2011, May 24). Levee blasted along Mississippi River to spare Cairo, IL. USA Today. Retrieved from http://

Yerington Town Council. (2007). Yerington Master Plan. Retrieved from

Supplementary Material D: In-Class Activity Worksheet


Instructions: Imagine you are a team of residential housing developers and contractors. Your job is to evaluate potential construction sites and determine their suitability for residential development. You must consider a wide range of environmental factors, including groundwater availability/excess, slope/terrain, soil composition, bedrock, vegetation, and natural hazards, especially potential natural disasters in the given region. Use your personal electronic devices to research your group’s town or city and answer the questions below. Based on your findings, your group must decide why your location is well-suited or ill-suited for a housing development.

Name of Town:

1.Where is the town located? Which ecoregion is it in?

2.What is the general climate of this town (weather patterns, temperature, precipitation, etc.)?

3.What is the terrain or topography of this town?

4.What environmental features are near it? Are these features rare/unique/biologically significant?

5.What natural disasters may have affected it in the past? What dangers might affect this town in the future?

6.In your group’s expert opinion, should construction proceed on large-scale residential development in this location? Why or why not? (Continue answer on back, if needed)

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Supplementary Material E: Diagram of Brainstorming Activity

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