Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

Christiane von Reichert

Commitee Members

Douglas Dalenberg, Paul Wilson


amenity migration, exurban development, residential development


University of Montana


Population growth in the Non-Metropolitan West has increased over the last two decades. Many researchers have argued that natural amenity concerns, the quality and diversity of the environment, and the rural nature of the non-metropolitan West are the chief factors influencing individuals’ decisions to settle. This research examines a single high-amenity county in Western Montana, Flathead County, and analyzes the factors affecting land values and the probability of residential development at the parcel level. This research develops spatial variables thought to affect land values in an ArcGIS 9.2 environment and develops a regression model that estimates land values based on those spatial variables in SPSS 15.0. These variables include distance to lakes, roads, and streams, the density of homes and roads, and adjacency to open space. The regression model included 24,671 residential parcels and returned an R-squared of .522. In a similar manner, a binary logistic regression model was developed using the same variables in order to estimate the probability of parcel development. In this operation, 38,379 parcels were included, and the model estimated whether the parcel was developed or not correctly 73.1% of the time. The findings of this research shows that the spatial location of natural and man-made features have a real and measurable effect on land values and the probability of parcel development in Flathead County, Montana.



© Copyright 2008 Louis Anthony Jarvis