Open Space Value and Model for Land Acquisition in San Timoteo Canyon, California

Publication Date


Committee Chair

Glenn Hyman, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Timothy Krantz, Ph.D.
Karen K. Kemp, Ph.D.
Lisa Pierce
Ken Althiser


In the mountains south of the City of Redlands (California), lies San Timoteo Creek. This river valley is largely undeveloped with an almost intact habitat of original coastal sagebrush and oak woodlands mixed with agricultural uses. Civic groups, concerned citizens, and others advocate the creation of a new state park in the San Timoteo Canyon/Badlands area to conserve the unique wildlife habitat and recreational open space. This new park will preserve key habitat, flood-prone areas, recreational resources and historic places that can be enjoyed for generations to come by all the surrounding communities.

According to the Natural Lands Trust (February 1995), open space is defined as undeveloped lands which contain opportunities for active and passive recreation and offer some ecological benefits such as habitat for wildlife and endangered species. Usually, the conservation of these open space areas is done by default, rather than achieved as an active part of the planning system. Special landscape features, such as floodplain areas and marshlands, are unsuitable places for development. Therefore, these zones are often used to meet a city’s open space requirements. While preservation of these areas can be an important goal, ensuring that open space maintains ecological and human benefits, requires the conception of a predefined plan.

This project develops a model that prioritizes the most valuable open space areas according to the objectives pursued in the creation of this park. The model consists of a weighted overlay of the factors that determine open space values in the study area. By varying the weights of these factors, different combinations (overlays) produce several scenarios according to the established priorities. The usage of the Delphi process to assign these weights assures that the final results obtained from this project will accommodate the diverse interests and points of view of the different organizations involved.

The application of this model to San Timoteo Canyon and the data generated can be used as important tools for future decision-making by organizations involved in the creation and management of the park, and the same methodology can also be applied to similar areas with similar problems.

However, it is not the goal of this project to provide a definitive answer about which parcels have to be acquired to create the state park. This project intends to serve as a tool that will orient the decision-makers in their parcel acquisition strategies and will allow better management through improved visualization of the existing resources.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands


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