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From the 2008 Sonoran Institute annual report:
Seeing Red Helps Citizens Plan for Growth
“The Sonoran Institute’s growth model turns statistics and numbers into a visual that helps citizens discuss how growth might change their community,” says Rick Hartz, planner for Beaverhead County in Montana. “When you see the outline of your county fill up with red dots over time, it is a real eye opener.” The Institute’s Jennifer Boyer, Tim Davis and John DiBari are working with a citizen’ group as they develop a growth plan for the county. The growth model’s red dots show the committee and others what their county’s future development patterns might look like using information from past patterns. Status-quo projections show what growth might look like if business-as-usual development were to continue. The community can then decide whether to steer growth in another direction. Many communities recognize current development patterns are fiscally unsustainable, or they want to protect agricultural lands, water quality and wildlife habitat. The growth model can reflect citizens’ ideas affecting land use, for example, to show how development patterns might change by protecting prime agricultural soils or elk winter range or by encouraging growth around existing communities. Plugging in such land use policies, the model produces alternative growth scenarios that help citizens, planners and decision-makers see how their ideas may affect future development patterns and shape the character of their community.