Environment and Geography 2016-11-03T07:19:23+00:00

Environment and Geography

The environment affects and is affected by a number of choices people and communities make that range from how to live, how to get to work, how to purchase goods and services, and where to build homes to mention just a few. Environmental quality directly affects the health and well-being of all residents and the ecosystem. For instance, energy consumption impacts the environment through the emission of greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants from fossil fuel combustion.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the California Air Resources Control Board, California Almanac of Emissions and Air Quality.

This graph shows the concentration of ground level ozone, as well as the trend in ozone concentration for the three NSJV counties. Ground level ozone is a secondary pollutant generated when two primary pollutants (nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds) react in sunlight and stagnant air. While levels of ozone have been very volatile, especially in the past eight years, there is a clear downward trend in the concentration of ozone as shown with the dotted lines on the graph. The volatility makes it hard to single out one county that has the worst ozone concentration, but San Joaquin County has had the lowest overall ozone levels since 1991.

Data was compiled and calculated from CalRecycle’s Disposal Rating System and population data from the American Community Survey. After compiling the numbers of tons disposed from CalRecycle, numbers were converted to pounds. The population of a respective geography was divided into the number of pounds disposed annually. The number of pounds disposed annually was then divided by 365 (the number of days in a year).

This graph shows the pounds of waste produced per person per day for the California, the NSJV counties, and a select number of surrounding counties. San Joaquin County residents produce the least waste of any of the counties examined, while Sacramento County residents produce the most. Only Sacramento and Merced County residents produce more waste than California as a whole.

Land converted to urban use

Area 2004-2006 2008-2010 2012-2014
Merced 1,823 957 446
San Joaquin 4,426 1,400 610
Stanislaus 1,517 558 194
NSJV 7,766 2,915 1,250

Data for this indicator was obtained from the California Department of Conservation, Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program. The data presented in this table shows the net farmland lost to urban development. That is, the amount of farmland converted to urban use, minus the amount of urban land converted to farmland.

This table shows the net acres of land converted from farmland to urban use. In each year there is farmland that is converted to urban uses, but there is also urban land that is converted into farmland. This table shows the converted farmland minus converted urban land. More farmland is converted to urban uses in San Joaquin County than in the other NSJV counties. This makes sense as San Joaquin County is the most urban of the three NSJV counties. In total, 7,766 acres of farmland were converted to urban use between 2004 and 2006. However, in each subsequent period the amount of farmland converted to urban use has decreased significantly.

Acres of protected open space

Area Protected open space Open space per capita Percent of total area
Merced 106,348 0.399 8.6%
San Joaquin 18,288 0.026 2.1%
Stanislaus 55,144 0.104 5.8%
NSJV 179,780 0.119 5.8%

Data for this indicator was obtained from the California Protected Areas Database, and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The acreage of open space obtained from the California Protected Areas Database for each county was divided by the population obtained from the ACS to arrive at open space per capita.

This table shows the acres of protected open space for each of the NSJV counties. Protected open space can be comprised of local, state, and national parks, wildlife conservancies and more. Merced County is both the largest NSJV county in terms of square miles, and acres of open space with 106,348 acres of protected open space. This is almost twice the amount of open space located in Stanislaus County, and over five times the amount of open space in San Joaquin County.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the California Protected Areas Database.

This graph shows the composition of protected open space in the NSJV by type of access and controlling agency. The overwhelming majority of protected open space in the NSJV, 66%, is open to the public. These spaces include parks and can be accessed by the public either for free, or for a fee. An additional 32% is restricted access. This type of open space includes wildlife preserves where select groups can enter, but it is off limits to the general public. Only 2% is not at all accessible. The State controls 50% of all open space in the NSJV, while the federal government controls an additional 32%. Counties, cities, special districts and non-profits control the remaining 18%.