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Last Settler’s Syndrome and Land Use Change in Southern Appalachia


  • Kristan Cockerill
  • Jana D. Groothuis
  • Peter A. Groothuis


In many rural areas land use patterns are shifting from agriculture or woodland to residential development. This is especially true in areas possessing significant natural amenities like the sweeping vistas, white-water rivers, and blue-ridged mountains of Southern Appalachia. As in-migration increases, decisions about land use can become heated as the “newcomers” square off with long-time residents. Understanding how various groups value both the land (as productive resource) and the landscape (as scenic amenity) can help address potential conflict when land use changes. Two independent projects in Watauga County, North Carolina, reflect attempts to understand perspectives on land use through an economic framework and to address land use change from an environmental perspective. Both projects reveal evidence of “last settler’s syndrome”—a tendency among individuals to place a high value on what initially attracted them to a specific place. Both also reveal situations of potential conflict when ideas about land use clash as well as situations for cooperation as various groups share values about land use. Key Words:

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  • Kristan Cockerill & Jana D. Groothuis & Peter A. Groothuis, 2011. "Last Settler’s Syndrome and Land Use Change in Southern Appalachia," Working Papers 11-19, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:11-19

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter A. Groothuis & Tanga M. Mohr & John C. Whitehead & Kristan Cockerill, 2015. "Payment and Policy Consequentiality in Contingent Valuation," Working Papers 15-04, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.

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