Principal Investigator
Brian Lee, Department of Landscape Architecture

Project Summary
A land use modeling study in the Lexington-Fayette Area of Central Kentucky

Project Description
The purpose of this project is to implement the SLEUTH cellular automaton urban simulation model in central Kentucky. SLEUTH is an acronym for Slope, Land cover, Exclusion, Urbanization, Transportation, and Hillshade. SLEUTH was initially developed by Dr. Keith Clarke of the University of California - Santa Barbara. A cellular automaton is a collection of cells on a grid that changes states (developed or not developed) through a number of discrete time steps according to a set of rules based on the states of neighboring cells. The rules are then applied iteratively for as many time steps as desired.

There are at least 21 implementations of SLEUTH in the United States and 11 in international regions. The model uses historical growth patterns derived from classified remote sensing data, like the National Land Cover Data (NLCD), and ancillary data to predict where land cover change, or urban growth, will occur in the future. Currently, we are focusing on the urban growth portion of the model. This has important implications for transportation planning as well as agriculture, wildlife, and water resources for decades to come. The modeling package has the ability to show what the landscape pattern will likely be at discrete periods decades from now based on past development patterns.

The pilot study area for this project is Lexington-Fayette County and portions of the adjacent counties of Clark, Bourbon, Scott, Woodford, Jessamine, and Madison. This multi-county region of Kentucky provides an opportunity for several reasons. This region has been experiencing land use conversion from forest/agriculture to urban uses. The region is experiencing an expected to continue increasing population and resulting housing unit capacity expansion. For example, Scott County is the third fastest growing county in the state in terms of population growth over the last six years (24%). Jessamine County population was up over 14-percent and Madison County at almost 11-percent making them the seventh and eleventh fastest growing counties in the state respectively. The Urban Service Area in Lexington-Fayette County has been in effect, with some modifications, for almost 50 years. This presents an unparalleled opportunity for predictive modeling since it is the oldest type of policy boundary in the nation. In addition, many entities are calling for regional cooperation and thinking relative to the economy and quality of life. Land use and transportation planning is central to quality of life issues.

Objectives of this project include: 
1.Utilize historical land use patterns to predict land use patterns considering topographic form and roadway infrastructure.
2. Create land use scenarios in an experimental environment depicting the next several decades,
3. Identify potential urbanization patterns useful for transportation planning activities in a multi-jurisdictional planning region.

Related Links

• Project Gigalopolis