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What’s at Stake When the Treasure Valley Loses Farmland to Growth?

farmland and mountains in the background
Photo by Patrick Sweeney


Idaho lost 68,823 acres of agricultural land to development between 2001 and 2016. This loss can be attributed to high population growth as Idaho has been consistently ranked as one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. While the amount of land lost represents a small fraction of Idaho’s total agricultural land, 26% of the land lost was considered nationally significant and Idaho’s best land for agriculture was 306% times more likely to be converted than other agricultural land. Faced with increased development pressure encroaching on agricultural land, our project seeks to understand what is at stake when agricultural land is lost and the policy mechanisms available to support farmland protection. With this improved understanding, we can make informed decisions that protect people’s livelihoods, a vital ecosystem, and the deep agricultural heritage of the Treasure Valley.

Project Objectives

  1. Optimize ecosystem services for identification of the most important agricultural lands to protect.
  2. Determine the policy mechanisms that Idaho decision-makers can consider for farmland protection.
  3. Create innovative materials to disseminate information to local stakeholders and the public.

For more information

View an infographic that explains the issue of farmland loss in the Treasure Valley. Accessible, text-only version at this link. 

Read project overview in a press release in Boise State University News

Watch Idaho local news video, “Treasure Our Valley celebrates Idaho’s farm industry” with an interview of team member Dr. Pierce.

Watch or read  Idaho local news article  “BSU researcher identifies results of vanishing farmland in the Treasure Valley”

Read an article in the Boise State student newspaper with interview Sarah Halperin, Grant-funded research looks into loss of farmland in the Treasure Valley. 

4 Aerial views of Boise showing loss of farmland to housing developments. Top panel: the foothills east of Boise taken in 1992 and 2017. 2 Bottom pane- suburban spawl in Meridian Idaho shown in picture for 1992 and 2017.The Team

Sarah Halperin, Boise State University
Dr. Jodi Brandt, Boise State University
Dr. Jen Pierce, Boise State University
Dr. Jen Schneider, Boise State University
Dr. Matt Williamson, Boise State University
Dr. Rebecca Som Castellano, Boise State University