Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level





Edward Holland

Committee Member

Jason Tullis

Second Committee Member

Caleb Roberts


green infrastructure;northwest arkansas;open space;urbanization


Northwest Arkansas regional planning authorities in 2016 released the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan, a voluntary document outlining ways to protect and preserve important open spaces even as the region’s population balloons and urban development spreads outward. No one appears to have made a systematic attempt to gauge the Plan’s impact on development decisions, however. In this thesis, I conduct a qualitative survey of several cities and counties’ planning codes and comprehensive plans to determine how much these policies have in common with the Open Space Plan’s essential principles. From that survey, I also conduct two case studies of recent developments to find how differences in policies may manifest in the real world. I find widespread alignment between local policies and the Open Space Plan, though with pertinent variations among the local governments surveyed that appear to play a role in the approval process for the two developments selected as case studies. I conclude that any efforts to incorporate the Open Space Plan more fully into local development decisions could likely focus on particular principles, such as the principle of networking and connecting open spaces, rather than taking a broad and general approach.