A new method is used to evaluate the strategic value of Fresno County farmland
Fresno County is a rich agricultural area that faces rapid urbanization and farmland conversion. The county is participating in a strategic, multi-county planning initiative aimed at making sustainable and regionally cohesive land-use decisions. To inform this effort, we conducted a farmland conservation assessment and identified strategic farmlands for prioritization in future conservation efforts. We identified environmental and human predictor variables that affect the viability of existing farmland, used a geographic information system (GIS) to integrate them, and created a countywide strategic farmland conservation map. We compared our analysis to status quo methods of prioritization and found that with our model the spatial output of highly valued farmland was shifted, narrowed and located adjacent to some of the county’s most urbanized areas. These findings are influencing growth policies and farmland conservation planning in Fresno County.