Date of Award


Document Type

Terminal Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture


Matthew N. Powers

Committee Member

Mary Beth McCubbin

Committee Member

Ellen A. Vincent


ABSTRACT Rural gateway communities are facing unprecedented change as populations in these areas are diminishing for the first time in American history (Yen and Dreier, 2013). Gateway communities are towns and cities adjacent to public lands including but not limited to national parks, state parks, wildlife refuges, forests, historic sites, etc. (Howe et al., 1997). These communities are important because they provide support for visitors and act as thresholds to our nation's public lands and parks. Gateway communities are desirable settings for a growing number of people due to their natural beauty and the high quality of life associated with these rural areas. It is ultimately the unique natural characteristics along with the immediacy to protected lands that amplify the challenges that gateway communities face in terms of development and growth (Howe et al., 1997). Profound changes are creating considerable challenges for rural gateway communities that want to maintain their quality of life. In response to these threats, this study is concerned with how to manage growth with consideration to long-term environmental, cultural, and economic health. Specifically, this study addresses the design of the central business district from the perspectives of protection, partnerships, tourism, access, character, and culture through case studies of four gateway communities. The goal of this study is to present design solutions for rural gateway communities that ensure the continued growth and health of local economies, communities, and environments. Findings from this study reveal major principles and guidelines associated with rural gateway community design and indicate a need to address development from the perspectives of the community, public land managers, residents, and tourists. Additionally, this research suggests the need for more discussion about involving the tourism industry and sustainable development in design and planning so that rural gateway communities can begin to prevent the loss of their natural environment as well as their community character.