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Bountiful "Blues", Plenty of "Purples", Gobs of "Greens", and Modern "Educational Means"? Agroecological & Regulatory Dynamics within 16th Section Lands of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta
Proceedings of the 2023 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2023 Authors: Heintzman L., McIntyre N.

Established by Jeffersonian Era laws, 16th Section Lands of Mississippi are protected areas that often contain aquatic resources. Historically, these areas were subject to diverse policy, market, and environmental controls; as a consequence, their current agroecological and regulatory patterns are diverse. Land use/land cover (LULC) patterns associated with this diversity are known to influence aquatic resource planning in other protected areas. However, very few studies have examined agroecological and regulatory patterns within 16th Section Lands of Mississippi, and for the few studies that do exist, their foci were forestry or educational caselaw. Even fewer studies have focused on 16th Section Lands of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta (YMD), and to our knowledge, none have documented spatiotemporal fluctuations in land use/land cover at the landscape scale. This lack of knowledge may hinder enforcement of permitted activities, reduce efficacy of irrigation/groundwater managements, and stymie regional conservation initiatives. Currently, the Mississippi Department of State has administrative oversight of 16th Section Lands, but the lands are managed by local school districts on a parcel basis. Parcels within 16th Section Lands of Mississippi are classified into nine possible categories, each with distinct LULC regulations (permitted activities). Modern leases are subject to decadal evaluation, yet legacy arrangements and indeterminate records complicate educational funding and aquatic resource planning. Therefore, to address coupled scientific and social concerns, we documented landscape changes within 16th Section Lands of the YMD from 2008-2021. We documented dynamics of six socio-ecologically relevant LULC attributes for 16th Section Lands of the YMD: proportionality, variety, baseline stability, sequential stability, embedded parcels counts, and mean rent. We mapped unique patterns among each of the six LULC attributes and identified their subsequent distributions of "hot spot neighborhoods" and "cold spot neighborhoods" Overall, however, wetlands and urban areas featured highest stability, whereas cropped areas had highest mean rents. These results showcase heterogeneity among agroecological and regulatory perspectives for the 103 local school districts that either manage or receive income from 16th Section Lands

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