Study shows housing development on the rise near national forests

October 25, 2007

America’s national forests and grasslands provide the largest single source of freshwater in the United States, habitat for a third of all federally listed threatened or endangered species, and recreation opportunities for people (about 205 million visits are made annually to national forests).

These and other benefits could be altered by increased housing growth. The population of the United States is projected to increase by 135 million people between 2000 and 2050. Americans are moving closer to national forests and other public lands because of the amenities they provide. As a result, housing density is expected to increase on more than 21.7 million acres of rural private lands located within 10 miles of national forests and grasslands by 2030, according to a recent study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

“Forests, farms, ranches, and other open spaces are rapidly being developed as more people are choosing to live at the urban fringe and in scenic, rural areas,” says Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell. “This development is affecting our ability to manage national forests and grasslands as well as our ability to help private landowners and communities manage their land for public benefits and ecosystem services.”

The recently released, National Forests on the Edge: Development Pressures on America’s National Forests and Grasslands, provides information on rural residential development to private landowners and communities as they work to manage and conserve open space.

Some of the findings in the report are:
Nine national forests and grasslands are projected to experience substantial increases in housing density on at least 25 percent of adjacent private land; the Bitterroot National Forest in Idaho and Montana ranks highest in this category.

Almost all eastern national forests are may experience high to moderate increases in adjacent housing density. Private lands bordering national forests in Colorado, northwestern Montana, northern Idaho, California, and Oregon are also projected to experience moderate to high increases.

Thirteen national forests are projected to experience substantial residential development on more than ½ million acres of adjacent, currently rural, private lands. Most of these national forests are located in southern states and in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions.

Source: USDA Forest Service

Explore further: New Atlas charts Kenya's natural assets

Related Stories

New Atlas charts Kenya's natural assets

November 20, 2015

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Government of Kenya enlisted support from a consortium of National and international experts and researchers, including ecologists from the University of York, to produce ...

Telling the story of the world's most at-risk forests

November 13, 2015

The most recent chapter of the World Wildlife Foundation's Living Forests Report, Chapter 5: Saving Forests at Risks, identifies 11 deforestation fronts where more than 80% of global deforestation between 2010 and 2030 is ...

Large landowners key to slowing deforestation in Brazil

November 10, 2015

Brazil once had the world's highest rate of deforestation. And while land is still being cleared at an alarming rate, the country has been successful in reducing its deforestation in recent decades. Continuing that trend ...

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.