Marcellus by Design is a Penn State University Department of Landscape Architecture studio initiative to enhance awareness of the roles that landscape planning and design can play in the context of Marcellus Shale natural gas development in the northern tier counties of Pennsylvania. We strive to provide a balanced approach to integrating environmental, economic, sociological, and aesthetic dimensions of landscape through forward-looking research, strategic planning, and design. Accepting that Marcellus Shale gas development has already occurred and will likely continue to be a driving force behind economic development in many Pennsylvania communities, we are committed to expanding the breadth and accessibility of knowledge about alternative approaches to landscape planning under current and future gas development scenarios. Our goal is to provide stakeholders with information and insights regarding design tools that can help citizens make informed decisions about their land, their livelihoods, and their future.
Why do we need designers?
Any large-scale development has long lasting economic, social, and ecological effects where it occurs. Landscape Architects and Planners are trained to identify and weigh the many considerations and approaches of large scale landscape planning, and then provide valuable input through the entire development process—from providing informed judgments about the potential impacts of well-pad and pipeline placement to opinions as to the best means for eventual management and reclamation of well-pad sites. The inclusion of designers in the land planning and gas development dialogue will help rural areas and small communities manage their resources while preserving the healthy landscape, scenic character and lifestyle of these places for future generations.
Formulating and Implementing Best Practices
The numbers of stakeholders involved, coupled with the scope of development, makes for a very complex decision-making process. There are few absolute answers to many of the questions that arise during the land planning process. Best Management Practices (BMPs) are approaches and processes that have consistently produced effective results, and serve as a benchmark for making decisions. Over time, as understanding of outcomes develop, the available BMPs evolve and improve.
Understanding the issues, people, and places involved is key to implementing BMPs for landscape planning and resource development. Design processes grounded in research reveal how different factors affect one another, and where there is room for improvement. Our process involves the investigation of competing scenarios developed in consultation with experts in a variety of fields. We seek Best Management Practices that provide broad-based and resilient answers to the difficult and multi-faceted questions and issues posed in land planning in the face of gas extraction.