Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Greene, Richard P.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Geography


Land use; Rural--Illinois--Chicago Region; Open spaces--Illinois--Chicago Region--Planning


This thesis examines the effects of urban encroachment on agriculture and open space on the urban-rural fringe. A model is developed which assumes that the current rate of farmland loss will continue to the year 2010. The conversion of prime agricultural land on the urban-rural fringe of the Chicago Metropolitan area has become rampant over the past twenty years. One effect of this conversion process is the loss of open space. Chapter 1 is a review of the problems associated with suburban sprawl and the loss of farmland and open space. The chapter also includes a description of McHenry County, the study area. The study area was selected based on its status as an urban-fringe county encountering rapid population growth. Population statistics indicated that the projected population of McHenry County will exceed 235,000 people by the year 2000. Chapter 2 provides a description of the forms and functions of open space. The chapter documents the process of agricultural and open space land conversions and the repercussions associated with this process. The chapter then reviews land use controls aimed at alleviating some of the problems associated with these conversions, including zoning, establishment of agricultural districts, and comprehensive planning. The chapter concludes with a discussion of open space acquisition and neo-traditional planning. These two methods have been shown to be effective in preserving open space. Chapter 3 describes the methodological approach used in the identification of land- use change and the development of the models. Data were acquired from land-use inventories conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NBPC), in 1973 and 1990, respectively. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques were used in both the classification of land use change and in the development of the two models, one depicting discontinuous residential growth and the other, compact residential growth. Chapter 4 is composed of an analysis of the amount and pattern of agricultural and open space land conversions in McHenry County from 1973 to 1990. Two models of future growth are developed, the first incorporating the discontinuous development pattern found in the past, and the other incorporating the concept of compact growth. The models are then assessed as to their ability to preserve the quality of open space. The analysis of land-use change showed 56,000 acres of agricultural land being converted to other uses, the majority of which was to residential development. This development occurred in a discontinuous pattern, equating to suburban sprawl. The first model adopted this pattern and rate of change and showed over 7,000 acres of open space potentially being compromised in quality. The model of efficient growth showed a 44 percent reduction in the amount of open space being compromised.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [94]-97)


97 pages




Northern Illinois University

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