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Thread: Free Land to Lure Prairie Homesteaders - Garden State Urban Studies Prof Snickers.

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Free Land to Lure Prairie Homesteaders - Garden State Urban Studies Prof Snickers.

    Read the article here.

    My favorite part of the article

    "If the town doesn't have much to offer in the first place - pretty much the definition of a declining town - this approach is unlikely to make any difference. It sounds like a desperation move: 'Please, pretty please come live in our town,'" said Frank Popper, an urban studies professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

    Popper, who spent years studying Plains population decline, said similar programs have been tried in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, "but I haven't heard that there have been many takers or noticeable results."
    The article then goes on to mention the plan has been an early success. I do wonder if the good Professor has ever traveled west of the Garden State.

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    For some reason I've always been fascinated by this concept. I wonder if these communities would have more success if they tried to recruit immigrants, or people living in inner cities seeking a better life or education for their children.

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    As the coastal big cities and desirable resort areas (like in the mountains) become even more hyperexpensive, more people may be pushed to taking that risk. Even there, isn't there plenty of relatively cheap housing in a metropolitan area like Kansas City where they can affordably "start over" while still have urban amenities? How many people really want to farm or engage in a rural occupation?

    There are probably people out there who want to escape the "rat race" of the coastal (or even interior) metropoli. And, some of these people might, for example, be sociologically conservative-which would further push them into rural towns. But, if there are few amenities in the declining town, will there be a large number of entrepenurial people willing to forgo the amenities of climate and landscape for a chance to live very inexpensively in a small town environment?

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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess
    For some reason I've always been fascinated by this concept. I wonder if these communities would have more success if they tried to recruit immigrants, or people living in inner cities seeking a better life or education for their children.
    Yeah. The Hmong immigrants, who largely settled in California initially, are emigrating to Louisiana and Arkansas for cheaper land and a easier chance to enter the poultry business.

    Since we are talking about the cold, flat Great Plains, though, how many immigrants do we really have from Mongolia or Tibet? :-P

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    But, if there are few amenities in the declining town, will there be a large number of entrepenurial people willing to forgo the amenities of climate and landscape for a chance to live very inexpensively in a small town environment?
    True. But if enough population density is established, perhaps some of those entrepreneurial people will actually develop those amenities -- start businesses to serve the newcomers. You see this phenomenon in urban immigrant communities.

    Probably the whole process needs to start with a few "pioneers" who can work from home.

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    OK here's what puzzles me on the revenue increase... isnt if partially offset by a decrease? If one assesses land on the basis of comparable sales, and the sales are for $0, then shouldnt EVERY existing home assessment be decreased as its land component drops to zero? So four homes have been built generating $4000 in taxes. What is the cumulative value of all the residential land that should now be reassessed at lower values?

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Mongolians - Gotta get invited to a Que!

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    ...Since we are talking about the cold, flat Great Plains, though, how many immigrants do we really have from Mongolia or Tibet? :-P
    Believe it or not Dodge City, Kansas has a small Mongolian population. The Community college is a jumping off point for many of the few Mongolian imigrants to the US. Additionally, Mike Gurnee, a fellow Cyburbian, is considered the Dali Lama of Dodge City. (I was just kidding about that last part.)

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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    Believe it or not Dodge City, Kansas has a small Mongolian population. The Community college is a jumping off point for many of the few Mongolian imigrants to the US. Additionally, Mike Gurnee, a fellow Cyburbian, is considered the Dali Lama of Dodge City. (I was just kidding about that last part.)
    One of the engineers I work with in Public Works is actually MARRIED to a Mongolian lady.

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    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    One of the engineers I work with in Public Works is actually MARRIED to a Mongolian lady.
    you trumped everyone!

    Don't they have Mongolians in South Park? :-P
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    OK here's what puzzles me on the revenue increase... isnt if partially offset by a decrease? If one assesses land on the basis of comparable sales, and the sales are for $0, then shouldnt EVERY existing home assessment be decreased as its land component drops to zero? So four homes have been built generating $4000 in taxes. What is the cumulative value of all the residential land that should now be reassessed at lower values?

    In Iowa's bizarre assesment formula, give-aways are not counted. It's a clause that protects the system from any inheritance or other give- away
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Part of me wants to say that these lands were never really sustainable, and that it's crazy for the government to subsidize homesteading in marginal rural areas.

    Weren't there some other East Coast academics who proposed vacating the entire Great Plains?

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    Popper and his wife are indeed the East Coast academics in question. It was claled "The Buffalo Commons"

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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Popper and his wife are indeed the East Coast academics in question. It was claled "The Buffalo Commons"
    I thought they were the ones; I did remember them being from Rutgers.

    BKM, I actually agree with your idea about offering opportunities to move into viable Plains metropolises, like Kansas City, Omaha and the like. Many small towns in the Plains may simply need to go the way of the McCormick reaper.

    And just in case people start to think I've gone right-wing, I'd advocate the same for inner city neighborhoods. If there not viable, let them stay empty until someone shows, with their money, that they can be viable again (of course, however, there should be planners there who can help show developers that they can indeed be viable again).

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Even there, isn't there plenty of relatively cheap housing in a metropolitan area like Kansas City where they can affordably "start over" while still have urban amenities? How many people really want to farm or engage in a rural occupation?

    Most of the folks are driving 30-40 to the city to work. Many of us would rather live and raise our kids in the small rural towns, even if we have to commute into work.




    There are probably people out there who want to escape the "rat race" of the coastal (or even interior) metropoli. And, some of these people might, for example, be sociologically conservative-which would further push them into rural towns. But, if there are few amenities in the declining town, will there be a large number of entrepenurial people willing to forgo the amenities of climate and landscape for a chance to live very inexpensively in a small town environment?
    Actually at the conference yesterday, one of the speakers telecommuted from Palmer Iowa, to the office in Denver. He has a side business building kalidescopes. His opinion is this is exactly what is happening.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Its nature's way

    OK here's what puzzles me on the revenue increase... isnt if partially offset by a decrease? If one assesses land on the basis of comparable sales, and the sales are for $0, then shouldnt EVERY existing home assessment be decreased as its land component drops to zero? So four homes have been built generating $4000 in taxes. What is the cumulative value of all the residential land that should now be reassessed at lower values?
    That's what annoys the hell out of me about my city. They give these tax breaks to developers of residential and commercial properties, while I have to scrape to get my $4200 annual assessment together. Why should the middle class and the poor be expected to shoulder the burden of inner-city redevelopment?

    But while abandonment of inner-city locations is largely the result of racism and social ills, isn't the decline of small Plains states towns largely a result of economic dislocation and changes in farming practices? Farms simply don't need the labor that they once did. I think the Poppers have a valid point in the idea of returning large areas of the Plains states to open Prairie. It makes sense from an ecological planning standpoint. Many species need lots of room to roam and don't do well with people around. Sentimental values seem to be the only thing that keeps some of these towns going. Not to be insensitive to these people, but sometimes you just have to accept that it is time for a change. Towns follow cycles of birth, growth and decline just like in the natural world. Sure, a declining town is a sad sight, but if you accept it as part of the natural process of things it becomes more acceptable. The world is full of the ruins of ancient towns that became redundant.

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    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    I'm sure other cities have this, I know around here you can get land or properties for a dollar as long as you pay off any back taxes. The city has plenty of properties it would like to see back on the tax rolls.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    But while abandonment of inner-city locations is largely the result of racism and social ills, isn't the decline of small Plains states towns largely a result of economic dislocation and changes in farming practices? Farms simply don't need the labor that they once did. I think the Poppers have a valid point in the idea of returning large areas of the Plains states to open Prairie. It makes sense from an ecological planning standpoint. Many species need lots of room to roam and don't do well with people around. Sentimental values seem to be the only thing that keeps some of these towns going. Not to be insensitive to these people, but sometimes you just have to accept that it is time for a change. Towns follow cycles of birth, growth and decline just like in the natural world. Sure, a declining town is a sad sight, but if you accept it as part of the natural process of things it becomes more acceptable. The world is full of the ruins of ancient towns that became redundant.
    Imagine this: Tens of thousands of acres of land in eastern Montana and the Dakotas is allowed to revert back to a natural landscape of shortgrass prairie, rolling hills and occassional tree-lined steams. Unproductive farms and ranches are abandoned, and roads and schools are closed. The costs of building and maintaining infrastructure drop as the grass grows and the bison return. Environmentalists, outdoorspeople, wildlife enthusiasts and others begin to take notice of this place. They come to visit, to hike, to camp, to hunt, to fish, and otherwise enjoy the natural world. They begin looking for hotels and restaurants. Some of the ranchers decide to start offering guided horseback trips. In one town, somebody decides to rent canoes for trips down the Missouri River. Somebody else starts selling camping, hunting, fishing, and related supplies. Other towns have similar businesses. They begin to grow....
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Imagine this: Tens of thousands of acres of land in eastern Montana and the Dakotas is allowed to revert back to a natural landscape of shortgrass prairie, rolling hills and occassional tree-lined steams.
    I recall doing a poaper in college on early geography of the "great plains" also referred to as "America's bread basket". Its interesting to see old maps labe the midwest from north dakota to texas and west to the rocky mountains as "the great american desert"

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Yeah, that whole area is totally unsustainable. They can only farm there because of irrigation, but the aquifer they're using is drying up. It's appearently causing some wicked subsidence. If you ask me, let it all go to seed (shortgrass prarie) and start grazing cattle and buffalo on it.

    Maybe they could even bring back wild buffalo hurds. That'd certanly help the tourism industry in those areas.

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    I think the Poppers have a valid point in the idea of returning large areas of the Plains states to open Prairie. It makes sense from an ecological planning standpoint. Many species need lots of room to roam and don't do well with people around.
    ... except that a lot of the habitat required for these species is gone, replaced with non-native plant species. I read recently that Iowa, or one of the other Plains states, only has 1% of its original prairie grasses left. Very sad!

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Well, that's because nearly all of the land is under till. What prarie exists now is usually in highway medians (seriously) and preserves, but it's the natural ecosystem for that environment, it could be regrown in a few years if they'd quit farming it.

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Yeah, that whole area is totally unsustainable. They can only farm there because of irrigation, but the aquifer they're using is drying up. It's appearently causing some wicked subsidence. If you ask me, let it all go to seed (shortgrass prarie) and start grazing cattle and buffalo on it.

    Maybe they could even bring back wild buffalo hurds. That'd certanly help the tourism industry in those areas.
    You know nothing of this area. Ignorant fool.

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    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    This looks like the last 7 miles!

    Environmentalists, outdoorspeople, wildlife enthusiasts and others begin to take notice of this place. They come to visit, to hike, to camp, to hunt, to fish, and otherwise enjoy the natural world. They begin looking for hotels and restaurants. Some of the ranchers decide to start offering guided horseback trips. In one town, somebody decides to rent canoes for trips down the Missouri River. Somebody else starts selling camping, hunting, fishing, and related supplies. Other towns have similar businesses. They begin to grow....
    Yeah, it could bring some new growth, creating new stresses on the environment, but will it be all that much? I don't think so. Prairie in Iowa just doesn't have the appeal of say, Glacier Nat'l Park. The tourists will be people who are really into Prairie wildflowers or Buffalo, things like that. Where would you choose to spend your precious week of vacation? A spectacular landscape with mountains and waterfalls, or a prairie that looks pretty much the same for miles around? If you're trying to market a place as an ecotourism destination, you have to plan for ways to retain its appeal as a "natural" place, even if the prairie is restored from 150 years of farming.

  24. #24
    it could be regrown in a few years if they'd quit farming it.
    You underestimate the power of invasive plants. I'm sure many of those non native plants are "naturalized" by now and won't be going anywhere. That's not to say many native species couldn't have a come back.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    You underestimate the power of invasive plants. I'm sure many of those non native plants are "naturalized" by now and won't be going anywhere. That's not to say many native species couldn't have a come back.
    ahhem.... http://www.tallgrass.org/
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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