Public Lab Research note

One Acre at a Time: Impact from rural development in Wittmann, Arizona

by PJDDusschee | December 11, 2022 19:24 11 Dec 19:24 | #37962 | #37962


The One Acre at a Time project. It is a community-engaged research project using ethnography and citizen science methods embedded in place-based learning. I will partner with community stakeholders to follow the residential development of one acre in the rural community of Wittmann, Arizona. Throughout the project, the research team will visit the acre periodically, observing it in its natural state through the completion of a home.

Our main concern:

Wittmann, Arizona, is an unincorporated rural area about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix. It is part of the Level 3 ecoregion: Sonoran Desert. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, residential development is spreading to rural areas such as Wittmann. The Sonoran Desert is the most biodiverse of the four deserts in the United States and is home to critical more-than-human species. The land is also shared by cattle ranchers who open graze their cattle. Current land zoning allows for only one home to be built per acre. However, subdivision developments are increasingly encroaching on the land.

The biggest concern with this rural development is its negative impact on more-than-human species displaced or destroyed by residential growth. How can rural communities, such as Wittmann, grow in a sustainable manner that preserves ecosystems?

Obstacles and supporting information:

Landowners and developers are seeking a zoning change to increase from one home per acre to three homes per acre. The Phoenix metro area does not have a history of responsible development resulting in significant urban sprawl. New homes are built quickly to keep up with housing demand, and people moving to the area are doing so because of affordability instead of a desire to live sustainably.

Who is engaged in this concern?

This research project will use citizen science and will be community-engaged. I am the founding researcher and will be seeking collaboration with other Wittmann residents, landowners and developers, conservationists, and local governments.

What are the initial questions?

Initial questions for the "one-acre-at-a-time" include:

1. What is the ecological impact of residential development on one acre of land in Wittmann, Arizona?

2. What species currently live above, on, and below the acre of land?

3. What happens to these species when land is completely cleared for development?

[questions: one-acre-at-a-time]


I'm looking forward to your protocols and testing! Good luck!

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