Common descriptors of deserts include “desolate,” “hot,” “arid, uninhabitable,” and, occasionally, “wasteland.” This chapter reports on research that spans approximately 15 years. The primary focus is on congruencies and conflicts among the perceived values attributed to desert landscapes by diverse interest groups. The specific desert landscapes that were the focus of study are riparian areas places that defy the common descriptors of deserts. They are the places where runoff water from infrequent rains collects and supports linear, green oases that exist in the midst of very extensive desert landscapes that are frequently characterized by a muted spectrum of browns, tans, and grays. More significant characteristics of desert riparian areas, however, are their scarcity and their importance for sustaining life: plant, animal, and human. They have been the sites of human occupantion in Southwestern American deserts for thousands of years (Lister & Lister, 1983). Nevertheless, Ffolliott and Thorud noted in 1974 that significant amounts of riparian areas had been lost within the state of Arizona and that they then accounted for only 0.4% of the surface area of the state. It is very likely that they occupy even less area than that today.
KeywordsRiparian Area Real Estate Agent Renewable Natural Resource Local Decision Maker Common Descriptor
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