Rural Landscape

Not all of the rural development is simply from families escaping the traditional urban neighborhoods. Rural sprawl can also describe aging baby boomers, and their desire to retire and vacation near bodies of water. While vacationers once traveled to “primitive cottages” near lakes and rivers “up north” in the Great Lakes region; it is now more commonplace to find vacation homes of 2000 square feet, complete with the “urban yard ethic.”

The two main stresses are “sprawl” and climate change

Climate change in the form of increased temperatures and anomalous severe weather events will further exacerbate a landscape that is already in the process of profound change. Some of these changes include:

•Higher water temperatures in combination with development-related storm water management issues (e.g. increased runoff, greater concentrations of pollutants, decreased buffering capacity from wetlands) will increasingly stress fish stocks and decrease the attractiveness of lakeside or riverside home ownership for some.
•Climate-related lowering of lake levels will have a dramatic effect on shoreline. In some cases, this will result in reclamation of beach areas (primarily around the Great Lakes) but in other cases it will make real estate along lower inland lakes and rivers less attractive.
•Challenge to arboreal forests from both the warming of the climate and development will lead to further forest loss and species weakening.
•Rural parcelization will reduce migration pathways for both plant and animal species that become challenged by warming and development and could have a dramatic effect on the ecosystem´s ability to relocate and recover from warming

Assessment report on Rural Landscape available in PDF

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Grand Traverse County, known as the Cherry Capital of the World, has a year-round population of 90,000 which swells to 2 million in the summer. It is also a prime place for retirees. A recent national survey placed the region as number 8 in a list of the nation’s Top Ten places for retirement.