UAlbany Biologist Advises Congressional Committee on Urbanization
Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980
Gary S. Kleppel, an associate professor of biological sciences and
director of the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy Program at the
University at Albany, testified before a congressional committee on
the impact of urban development on coastal areas and land use. The Jan.15-16
testimony was taken in Charleston, South Carolina.
The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy invited Kleppel to report on the
Land Use - Coastal Ecosystem Study (LU-CES), a multi-year, regional
study of the effects of changing land use patterns and coastal development
on the natural and economic resources of the salt marsh estuaries of
the southeastern United States. Kleppel heads the study.
"The environmental response to urbanization is well documented," Kleppel
said. "It degrades. However, we are finding that all types of urban
development do not degrade ecosystems to the same extent."
The goals of LU-CES are to develop an understanding of the mechanisms
underlying ecosystem changes, and to develop models and tools that can
be used by decision makers, particularly at the local level, to minimize
and mitigate the negative impacts of changing land use patterns to coastal
ecosystems. While the LU-CES project concentrated on coastal ecosystems
in the southeast, Kleppel envisions applications in Albany and across
"By understanding how different kinds land use affect ecosystems,"
Kleppel said, "it is possible to design communities that do minimal
damage to the environment. In the study that I head up, scientists from
major universities and government labs are producing fundamental information
about how various land uses affect the integrity of salt marsh ecosystems.
Our team of resource managers, urban planners, senior scientists and
data base managers is developing the procedure for packaging that fundamental
information so that it can be output to a variety of potential user
and interest groups to help them address specific problems related to
urban development and environmental quality."
The Commission, charged with developing a national ocean policy, met
in Charleston as the first of a national tour of nine regions around
the country where public and expert input will be provided.
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