At their first meeting in their new Shohola headquarters, the Pike County Office of Community Planning got a forecast on what development in Pike and Wayne counties might look like in the next 20 years.


At their first meeting in their new Shohola headquarters, the Pike County Office of Community Planning got a forecast on what development in Pike and Wayne counties might look like in the next 20 years.

Dr. Claire Jantz of Shippensburg University made a powerpoint presentation of the results of a land use model developed jointly by Shippensburg, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), NASA, the Woods Hole Research Center and the National Park Service, with help from Mike Mrozinski of the Office of Community Planning, who obtained and administered the grants for the program.

Jantz explained the land use forecast grew out of a GIS (Geological Information Systems) workgroup for the upper Delaware Valley area encompassing Pike and Wayne counties in Pennsylvania, Sullivan and Delaware counties in New York, and Sussex County, New Jersey. With $25,000 in grants and another $25,000 in in-kind services, the workgroup created a comprehensive growth model simulator that was then turned loose on population projections for Pike County based on the over 400 percent increase the county has seen over the past 60 years.

Using a model called SLEUTH developed by Keith Clarke of the University of California at Santa Barbara, the model works with land use data from satellite imagery to simulate development patterns as they have been since 1984, when the images were first collected. Data was also collected in 1995 and again in 2005, and compiled to calibrate -or “train” the model along with other historical growth patterns.

Using the satellite imagery, the group was able to measure forest land cover versus impervious (developed) regions, which indicates development intensity over the twenty years’ worth of data. With the established development centers identified, the group could then do calculations that predicted what future development might look like in various scenarios. For example, the model shows that the Matamoras/Milford area has seen the largest population growth in the county over the past two decades, but if it was assumed that the New York job market were taken out of the picture, the model predicts future growth would spread out considerably, with the lake region benefiting most.

The group also created maps of what development in the county might look like with a more conservation-minded approach, a balance of conservation and development, greater amenity growth, and unsuppressed population growth. The projections were also modified based on low, middle, and high economic growth factors through 2029.

The model’s developers are currently working to develop an interactive webpage that will be put on the county website for general public viewing. The webpage would allow users to add and remove filters — or layers — to see what Pike County might look like under various conditions.