Due to population growth, the United States has lost 17,800 square miles of open space

America lost 17,800 square miles of open space to development between 2002 and 2017, according to a study published today by NumbersUSA. This equates to an area the size of Maryland and Connecticut combined.

“Our nation is losing open spaces at an alarming rate,” said Leon Kolankiewicz, an environmental planner and co-author of the study. “Our analysis — which includes searchable data at the county level — shows that every state has lost rural land this century.”

The study – From sea to Brilliant Sprawling Sea: Quantifying the Loss of Open Space in America — uses U.S. Department of Agriculture data for each state except Alaska to detail how much land has been converted from forests and fields to strip malls, housing estates and other developments.

The very first question in the study showed that 79% of respondents believed that the destruction of agricultural land and natural habitat due to urban sprawl in the United States was a “major problem” (44%). or “a bit of a problem” (35%). .

The study also identifies what drove this development on a county-by-county basis. The primary contributor to the disappearance of open spaces has been population growth.

In an effort to keep farmland in the hands of farmers and ranchers, American Farmland Trust has spent its time creating a conservation agriculture movement. Their efforts have resulted in the permanent protection of more than 6.5 million acres of farmland.

“Our leaders at the local, state and federal levels will have to make tough choices in the years ahead,” Kolankiewicz said. “We can stay on our current trajectory – and continue to lose the equivalent of 17 Washington, D.C. value of open space each year. Or we can recognize that our growing population is causing the loss of open space – and do something about it.

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