Modeling the transfer of land and water from agricultural to urban uses in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico.

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Social and ecological scientists emphasize that effective natural resource management depends in part on understanding the dynamic relationship between the physical and non-physical process associated with resource consumption. In this case, the physical processes include hydrological, climatological and ecological dynamics, and the non-physical process include social, economic and cultural dynamics among humans who do the resource consumption. This project represents a case study aimed at modeling coupled social and physical processes in a single decision support system. In central New Mexico, individual land use decisions over the past five decades have resulted in the gradual transformation of the Middle Rio ... continued below

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54 p.

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Jarratt, Janet (Valencia County, NM); Passell, Howard David; Kelly, Susan (Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Albuquerque, NM); Malczynski, Leonard A.; Chermak, Janie (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM); Van Bloeman Waanders, Paul (GRAM, Inc., Albuquerque, NM) et al. November 1, 2004.

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Description

Social and ecological scientists emphasize that effective natural resource management depends in part on understanding the dynamic relationship between the physical and non-physical process associated with resource consumption. In this case, the physical processes include hydrological, climatological and ecological dynamics, and the non-physical process include social, economic and cultural dynamics among humans who do the resource consumption. This project represents a case study aimed at modeling coupled social and physical processes in a single decision support system. In central New Mexico, individual land use decisions over the past five decades have resulted in the gradual transformation of the Middle Rio Grande Valley from a primarily rural agricultural landscape to a largely urban one. In the arid southwestern U.S., the aggregate impact of individual decisions about land use is uniquely important to understand, because scarce hydrological resources will likely limit the viability of resulting growth and development trajectories. This decision support tool is intended to help planners in the area look forward in their efforts to create a collectively defined 'desired' social landscape in the Middle Rio Grande. Our research question explored the ways in which socio-cultural values impact decisions regarding that landscape and associated land use. Because of the constraints hydrological resources place on land use, we first assumed that water use, as embodied in water rights, was a reasonable surrogate for land use. We thought that modeling the movement of water rights over time and across water source types (surface and ground) would provide planners with insight into the possibilities for certain types of decisions regarding social landscapes, and the impact those same decisions would have on those landscapes. We found that water rights transfer data in New Mexico is too incomplete and inaccurate to use as the basis for the model. Furthermore, because of its lack of accuracy and completeness, water rights ownership was a poor indicator of water and land usage habits and patterns. We also found that commitment among users in the Middle Rio Grande Valley is to an agricultural lifestyle, not to a community or place. This commitment is conditioned primarily by generational cohort and past experience. If conditions warrant, many would be willing to practice the lifestyle elsewhere. A related finding was that sometimes the pressure to sell was not the putative price of the land, but the taxes on the land. These taxes were, in turn, a function of the level of urbanization of the neighborhood. This urbanization impacted the quality of the agricultural lifestyle. The project also yielded some valuable lessons regarding the model development process. A facilitative and collaborative style (rather than a top-down, directive style) was most productive with the inter-disciplinary , inter-institutional team that worked on the project. This allowed for the emergence of a process model which combined small, discipline- and/or task-specific subgroups with larger, integrating team meetings. The project objective was to develop a model that could be used to run test scenarios in which we explored the potential impact of different policy options. We achieved that objective, although not with the level of success or modeling fidelity which we had hoped for. This report only describes very superficially the results of test scenarios, since more complete analysis of scenarios would require more time and effort. Our greatest obstacle in the successful completion of the project was that required data were sparse, of poor quality, or completely nonexistent. Moreover, we found no similar modeling or research efforts taking place at either the state or local level. This leads to a key finding of this project: that state and local policy decisions regarding land use, development, urbanization, and water resource allocation are being made with minimal data and without the benefit of economic or social policy analysis.

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54 p.

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  • Report No.: SAND2004-5218
  • Grant Number: AC04-94AL85000
  • DOI: 10.2172/920125 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 920125
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc896792

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  • November 1, 2004

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 29, 2016, 8:25 p.m.

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Jarratt, Janet (Valencia County, NM); Passell, Howard David; Kelly, Susan (Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Albuquerque, NM); Malczynski, Leonard A.; Chermak, Janie (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM); Van Bloeman Waanders, Paul (GRAM, Inc., Albuquerque, NM) et al. Modeling the transfer of land and water from agricultural to urban uses in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico., report, November 1, 2004; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc896792/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.