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LESA (Land Evaluation / Site Assessment) Software

The Farmland Preservation program in Pennsylvania provides resources to purchase development rights of farms in order to protect then from future development.

The program requires that farm parcels that are being considered for protection be evaluated in terms of agricultural productivity and development pressure. Those parcels that are productive and under development pressure are prime candidates for preservation. The evaluation of a parcel is done on a county basis with a lack of uniformity in the methods.

The objective of the project was to develop a farmland evaluation system using a GIS. The GIS-based system uses agricultural productivity ratings of USDA soils data to determine agricultural productivity for a parcel and considers facts such as distance to public water and sewer, current zoning of surrounding land uses, distance to population centers, compliance with the comprehensive plan, and suitability of the soils for septic systems to evaluate development pressures. The system quickly and consistently evaluates parcels and provides the user options to vary the importance of each variable in the assessment models. The prototype systems was be tested in Lancaster County, PA and at least five Pennsylvania counties are currently using the system.

LESA ArcView GIS Outreach Site

The LESA ArcView GIS Outreach Site provides information, tutorials, and a downloadable demonstration for the LESA ArcView GIS software. This site has been established as part of the GIS Outreach is an initiative of Penn State's Office of Outreach and Cooperative Extension. This outreach program teams the Land Analysis Lab with the e-Education Institute of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to expand public access to advanced GIS applications.