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Landscape Aesthetics and the Scenic Drivers of Amenity Migration in the New West: Naturalness, Visual Scale, and Complexity

Listed author(s):
  • Jelena Vukomanovic


    (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1560 30th St, Boulder, CO 80303, USA)

  • Barron J. Orr


    (Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona, 1955 East Sixth St, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA)

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    Values associated with scenic beauty are common “pull factors” for amenity migrants, however the specific landscape features that attract amenity migration are poorly understood. In this study we focused on three visual quality metrics of the intermountain West (USA), with the objective of exploring the relationship between the location of exurban homes and aesthetic landscape preference, as exemplified through greenness, viewshed size, and terrain ruggedness. Using viewshed analysis, we compared the viewsheds of actual exurban houses to the viewsheds of randomly-distributed simulated (validation) houses. We found that the actual exurban households can see significantly more vegetation and a more rugged (complex) terrain than simulated houses. Actual exurban homes see a more rugged terrain, but do not necessarily see the highest peaks, suggesting that visual complexity throughout the viewshed may be more important. The viewsheds visible from the actual exurban houses were significantly larger than those visible from the simulated houses, indicating that visual scale is important to the general aesthetic experiences of exurbanites. The differences in visual quality metric values between actual exurban and simulated viewsheds call into question the use of county-level scales of analysis for the study of landscape preferences, which may miss key landscape aesthetic drivers of preference.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Land.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 1-24

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:3:y:2014:i:2:p:390-413:d:34855
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    1. Mueser Peter R. & Graves Philip E., 1995. "Examining the Role of Economic Opportunity and Amenities in Explaining Population Redistribution," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 176-200, March.
    2. Sengupta, Sanchita & Osgood, Daniel Edward, 2003. "The value of remoteness: a hedonic estimation of ranchette prices," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 91-103, February.
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