Date of Award

1-1-2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Environmental Resources & Policy

First Advisor

Duram, Leslie

Abstract

This study provides a spatial and temporal examination of land use change in a southern Illinois wilderness area. The study area is the Clear Springs and Bald Knob Wilderness areas. Land patent and Forest Service acquisition records were compiled with spatial and temporal elements of land transfers examined utilizing a geographic information system (GIS). Current wilderness recreation site impacts and opportunities for solitude conditions were inventoried. Land-cover data for 1938, 1965, 1993, and 2005 were created and analyzed utilizing a geographic information system (GIS). Results indicate that land use change and land ownership have varied both spatially and temporally. First, land ownership transfers were influenced by land costs, availability of funds and topography. Lower land costs resulted in increased land transfers. Bottomlands remained in private ownership for longer periods of time. Second, minimal developments or human improvement for visitor convenience were evident in the wilderness areas. Remote areas offer ample opportunities for wilderness visitors to seek solitude. Wilderness management efforts should continue to monitor areas on a five-year basis to capture status and trends. Third, intensity and temporal human-initiated landscapes have varied. Upland forest dominated the land cover in 1938 with some evidence of grass and croplands located predominantly on bottomlands. By 1993, grass and cropland had virtually been removed from this landscape replaced by forests. Evidence of past land use change exists on the landscape.

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