University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


For the past two decades, Northwest Arkansas has experienced rapid growth and increased urban development; population projections see the continuation of these trends (Wiley, 2010). Environmental conditions in the study area make it particularly sensitive to the effects of urban development, while existing landscape hazards and nuisance land uses jeopardize the quality of the urban form. Despite these phenomena, there is no comprehensive land use analysis or development management plan for Northwest Arkansas. This study presents a comprehensive environmental analysis of three sub-watersheds within the Illinois River watershed in Northwest Arkansas. Based on this analysis, the authors recommend planning overlays for future development and preservation in the Clear Creek, the Osage Creek, and the Illinois Headwaters sub-watersheds. This study fills the gap in Northwest Arkansas’ development strategy by recommending watershed level management and development priorities and practices. The regional environmental planning framework provides the comprehensive nature of the analysis used to determine these policies. This study goes beyond the merely normative process of citing new growth, however, by connecting sound planning policy to current research suggesting that Best Management Practices (BMPs), Low Impact Development (LID), and Smart Growth will provide the means necessary to sustain a high quality of life in Northwest Arkansas.