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Sprawl in the Lehigh River Watershed

Suburban Sprawl is a significant environmental, social, and economic issue for the Lehigh Valley area and many other regions around the United States. In this activity you will explore the ways that sprawl has affected the Lehigh River watershed and investigate ways that future decisions about land use in the region can be made in the best interest of our communities, our health, and our environment.

A report by Smart Growth America, entitled Measuring Sprawl and its Impact, ranks the Lehigh Valley 70th out of the 83 areas with the fastest growing population around the nation. The Lehigh Valley includes three urban centers: Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. Despite the fact that the population of Pennsylvania is growing very slowly compared to the rest of the nation, land is consumed quickly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked Pennsylvania fifth in the nation for development of non-federally protected lands between 1992 and 1997. In the Philadelphia region, between 1950 and 1990, the rate of land consumption outpaced the population growth by 6 to 1. Decisions that are made now about how the Lehigh Valley is developed will have a tremendous effect on the future prosperity and character of the region. This region can learn from previous mistakes that have been made by areas which are developing faster. Future decisions about land use planning should take into consideration human and environmental health.

This activity is divided into three instructional segments. Once you complete a segment, return to this page using the "sprawl home page" link to begin the next segment. Begin by clicking on the first link below titled, "An introduction to sprawl and the Lehigh River watershed."

  How has sprawl affected human and environmental health?  


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