Open space conservation in urban environments: lessons from Thousand Oaks, California

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Abstract

The conservation of large amounts of natural open space presents a significant challenge to local government, particularly in rapidly growing communities. In Thousand Oaks, California, over 12,000 acres of natural open space have been preserved within the City's planning area, while simultaneously accommodating approximately 116,000 residents.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the factors that have contributed to open space preservation by local government in Thousand Oaks. These factors include community initiative and support, open space conservation policies, diverse implementation techniques, creation of a local agency for open space stewardship, experience and commitment of staff, inter-agency agreements, large landholdings, and topography. This study highlights the need for a multi-faceted, integrated and long-term approach to open space conservation, based on public support. Many of the factors outlined in this paper may be applicable in other communities that are trying to balance economic growth with the conservation of natural landscapes.

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