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Cornell Planning Students Take First Place in New York Competition

November 12, 2008 | Genesee Land Trust (NY)

For immediate release


Ole M. Amundsen III
Visiting Lecturer, Department of City and Regional Planning
Cornell University
Phone: (607) 277-0999

Gay Mills
Executive Director
Genesee Land Trust
500 East Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14607
Phone: (585) 256-2130


Rochester, NY - The Upstate New York Chapter of the  American Planning Association has announced that Cornell City and Regional Planning Department’s Genesee Land Trust Conservation Plan has won the 2008 Outstanding Student Project Award for their work with the Genesee Land Trust  in Rochester, NY. The award jury examined projects for their overall quality, originality, transferability, implementation and comprehensive approach to problem solving. The award was presented at the Upstate New York APA conference in Rochester, on October 9th.

During the fall semester of 2007, nine graduate students participated in a client-based workshop taught by visiting lecturer Ole M. Amundsen III with Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) at Cornell University. The CRP workshops offer technical planning assistance to government agencies and nonprofit organizations while providing students with practical work experience. Workshops bring students out of the class room and into the field. With this project  this was literally true as the Trust has conserved several major farms that students visited during their tour of the region.  In exchange for the real world experience, the client received a high quality product for a fraction of the cost. There have been four workshops hosted by CRP focused on assisting upstate New York land trusts with their planning needs. The workshop was funded in part by a grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, administered by the Land Trust Alliance Northeast Program with support from the State of New York.

The Genesee Land Trust (GLT) is based in the City of Rochester and serves the conservation needs of the residents of the surrounding counties, covering a 1.3 million acre region. As a nonprofit with a small staff and a large service territory, GLT was looking for ways to focus its conservation efforts on the land and landscapes that best match its mission and have the highest resource value. In addition, the greater Rochester region is a prime example of an upstate New York land use phenomenon termed “sprawl without growth” in a 2003 Brookings Institute report, “Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox.” This study found that between 1982 and 1997, the urbanized land in the Rochester/Finger Lakes region increased 50,000 acres while the density (population per urbanized acre) declined 14.2 percent.

For this workshop, the Cornell Team drew upon their interdisciplinary backgrounds in planning, landscape architecture, architecture, and public policy to help their client (Genesee Land Trust) tackle the “sprawl with growth phenomenon”.  The Cornell Team placed the GLT territory in context by researching the history, demographics, and natural resources of the region. A comprehensive scenic resource inventory was developed by the Cornell Team to help the land trust document this under valued resource. Using the information from the nature resource and scenic resource inventories, the Cornell Team developed a series suitability models - which are computer aid mapping models, to help decision makers see the overlap of valuable natural resources.  These computer mapping models will be used by the GLT decision makers to evaluate the merits of conservation projects, bring more information to table when projects are reviewed and help the organization become pro-active in approaching willing landowners about conservation opportunities. Finally, the Cornell Team identified methods for measuring success of the planning initiative and made recommendations on financing options.

For final products GLT received an 80-page full-color report, a 30-page technical appendix, PowerPoint slides, four overlay maps, and two posters and CDs with the GIS map layers created for this workshop. According to Gay Mills, GLT Executive Director “This  well-executed plan will serve as a critical tool for guiding the Genesee Land Trust’s GLT’s strategic planning, community outreach, and project implementation for years to come.”

Reference Contact Information

Workshop Websites

For Copy of Workshop Report

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