The boundary between rural/agricultural and urban/ suburban areas can exist as a smooth transitional area where land uses blend well with one another, or it can be a jagged, disjointed, ill-defined edge where such land uses do not coexist easily. The nature of the interface is in large part a function of public policy decisions about land use. A critical higher-order policy choice concerns which governmental jurisdiction has control over rural urban interface issues. That is, what are the relative roles of federal, state, and local jurisdictions in addressing rural urban interface issues? The performance outcomes will differ depending on which jurisdiction has authority to make decisions concerning these issues. The purpose here is not to describe the policy issues and options available. See Refs. 1 and 3 for a description of federal policy issues and options related to the rural urban interface.
Four different philosophical positions and strategies for addressing public issues at the agricultural/rural urban interface can be identified; 1) reestablish the free market; 2) protect farmland and open space; 3) redevelop central cities; and 4) manage growth at the rural urban fringe.
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