, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 108-125
Date: 31 Jul 2011

Governing Change: Land-Use Change and the Prevention of Nonpoint Source Pollution in the North Coastal Basin of California

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Abstract

Many rural areas in the United States and throughout much of the postindustrial world are undergoing significant ecological, socioeconomic, and political transformations. The migration of urban and suburban dwellers into rural areas has led to the subdivision of large tracts of land into smaller parcels, which can complicate efforts to govern human–environmental problems. Non-point source (NPS) pollution from private rural lands is a particularly pressing human–environmental challenge that may be aggravated by changing land tenure. In this article, I report on a study of the governance and management of sediment (a common NPS pollutant) in the North Coastal basin of California, a region undergoing a transition from traditional extractive and agricultural land uses to rural residential and other alternative land uses. I focus on the differences in the governance and management across private timber, ranch, residential, vacation, and other lands in the region. I find that (1) the stringency and strength of sediment regulations differ by land use, (2) nonregulatory programs tend to target working landscapes, and (3) rural residential landowners have less knowledge of sediment control and report using fewer sediment-control techniques than landowners using their land for timber production or ranching. I conclude with an exploration of the consequences of these differences on an evolving rural landscape.