- Year: 2008
- Author: Pynnonen-Valdez, Dori M.
- Journal Name: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
- Publisher: Michigan State University
- Published Location: United States -- Michigan
- ISBN: 9780549607373
- Country: United States
- State/Region: Michigan
The problem of incompatible land use decisions has been surfacing in multiple regions as many families have recently migrated from city and suburbs to rural areas. Residents have repeatedly voiced a desire to protect "rural character," yet there have been few systematic attempts to have residents describe exactly what rural character means to them.
The purpose of this study was to discover the salient features that residents' use to describe rural character so that policyrelevant criteria can be developed at the local level to protect the qualities of rural landscapes that are important to people. This thesis examined areas that will soon face development challenges.
Twelve roving focus groups were conducted in six rural areas in south central Michigan. Focus group data revealed the natural and cultural features that residents use to describe rural character, including trees and forests, wildlife, fields, farm features, wetlands and certain types of housing. Participants also discussed salient features that detract from rural character, including housing type and characteristics. Some features could be considered rural if certain conditions were met, for example, subdivisions hidden by vegetation. The data are specific enough to be used as a planning tool at the local level.