Upcoming Symposium

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Open Planning Tools Group 4th Annual Symposium

November 16-18, 2014
Silver Spring, MD Civic Building

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Contacts - Visioning and Planning Tools

Joe Marlow
Land Economist
520-290-0828, ext. 1146

Hannah Oliver
Western Lands and Communities
Program Associate
602-393-4310, ext. 316

Cameron Ellis
GIS and Creative Projects Manager
406-587-7331, ext. 3008

Scenario Planning Tools Publication


Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools, a Policy Focus Report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, is available for dowload here.

Read about efforts to implement the key recommendations to advance use of scenario planning tools.




A website to designed to facilitate ongoing collaboration among scenario planning tools users and developers.

Visit the site


New Planning Resource

APA Regional and Intergov Planning Spring 2013-coverRegional and Intergovernmental Planning: Spring 2013 an American Planning Association publication

Download the publication

Home Where We Work Westwide Program & Projects Visioning and Planning Tools

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Visioning and Planning Tools

Scenario Planning Applications
Scenario Planning Tool Development
Sonoran Institute Growth Model

Decision makers, planners and stakeholders all recognize that the land use planning and infrastructure investment decisions we make today will directly affect the well-being of communities and regions as a whole for generations to come. Visioning and scenario planning tools are becoming increasingly important in this context for facilitating community decision making. These tools also assist efforts to address sustainability concerns; including the uncertainty related to climate change, future market conditions and resource use.

Future challenges facing growing communities and regions will necessitate taking integrated approaches that can bridge traditionally separate concerns (such as water, energy, air, transportation, economic development, fiscal impacts and land use). Fostering partnerships and regional coordination with state, local and federal agencies as well as increasingly engaged local stakeholders is also essential to creating workable and implementable strategies. Visioning and scenario planning tools that capture alternative development futures and simultaneously quantify costs and environmental impacts will be increasingly important in such approaches. Western Lands and Communities is involved in a number of projects relating to smart growth visioning and planning tools. Click on the links below to read about each of our projects in depth.

Scenario Planning Applications

Western Lands and Communities is conducting three additional demonstration projects to further enhance scenario planning tools and the ability to apply them in different situations. We utilized Fregonese and Associates Inc's Envision Tomorrow Model, in combination with other tools in the following projects:

  • Gallatin County, Montana - Examine multi-jurisdictional regional infill scenarios.
  • Superstition Vistas, Arizona – Create a number of development scenarios to determine sustainable development options on this 275 square mile parcel of state trust land.

Scenario Planning Tool Development

Western Lands and Communities began collaborating with tool developers, users, potential funders and university partners in February 2010 to advance open source tools for scenario planning. Read more about our endeavors and forthcoming report on this issue.

Successful Communities Online Toolkit information exchange

The SCOTie website is an online resource that provides the intermountain west planning audience with case studies on creative planning measures from peer communities. Read more about the project. Visit the site at www.scotie.org or www.successfulcommunities.org.

Sonoran Institute Growth Model

The Sonoran Institute has worked on an improved GIS-based model for land disposition planning and prioritization. The Sonoran Institute Growth Model was developed allow land managers to predict future growth patterns based on a variety of growth attributes, policies, and conditions. The model can be calibrated to historical rates and patterns of development for specific place-based settings, allowing for predictive modeling of growth under "business as usual" conditions. It also allows for modeling of various future scenarios using "smart growth" land use policies, the imposition of desired outcome criteria, additional environmental constraints, and other variables. The model objectively measures the suitability of any given land parcel for development under these various scenarios and assign "suitability" ratings.

The growth model was initially applied in Western Montana to help guide county growth management plans. The Sonoran Institute continues to refine the model so that it can be easily adapted to other locations.

A conceptual diagram indicating the flow of the Sonoran Institute Growth Model (SIGM). Each shape is annotated with the software used to process or analyze data or file formats associated with data inputs\outputs. Bright blue indicates GIS processing and analysis; Green represents statistical analyses; Dark blue indicates input and output tables; Pink indicates a script that reallocates the number and distribution of predicted structures based on zoning capacities; Yellow indicates visualization tools. The large gray polygon indicates automated model components.

View the SIGM Diagram

View the SIGM powerpoint

Conservation Priority Setting

Information forthcoming

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