On October 19, CFAC will release an interactive Google map that shows subdivision patterns across the working landscape, links to CFAC's comments on subdivision proposals, and video tours of farmland and sprawl. Below is a glimse of what's to come.
See you soon ...
The Google Earth image above shows the subdivisions CFAC has commented on and the soils of agricultural importance in Missoula County. The soils in red are ones the Natural Resources and Conservation Service has classified as Prime if Irrigated. These are the most fertile soils we've got in Missoula County and compose less than 2% of our land base. The soils in pink are also quite productive, classified as Farmland of Statewide Importance, which make up about 1% of all soils in the County. The soils in yellow are considered Farmland of Local Importance, which make up another 5% of all soils in the County. All in all, just 8% of Missoula County's land base is considered suitable for agriculture, and much of that has already been developed and will never be farmed again.
Not every subdivision on farmland, however, is bad news for agriculture. Many of the subdivisions CFAC has commented on did not pose a threat to working farms and ranches. Those subdivisions have yellow placemarkers. Other subdivisions did pose significant impacts to agriculture. These have orange and red placemarkers. The red ones indicate a CFAC recommendation of denial, whereas the orange trianlges indicate a CFAC recommendation of conditions of approval to mitigate the impacts to agriculture. In all cases, CFAC's comments respect a landowner's property rights. In some cases, the subdivision proposal is so far away from mitigating its impacts to agriculture, that the only appropriate course of action is to deny the subdivision and go back to the drawing board. In other cases, a condition of approval can adequately -- or at least partially -- minimize the proposed development's threats to agriculture.