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Mapping America's 'Disappearing West'

A new project examines how natural expanses in 11 Western U.S. states are being lost to urban and agricultural activity.
relates to Mapping America's 'Disappearing West'
Center for American Progress/Conservation Science Partners

States in the Western U.S. lost football field-sized swathes of natural land, including forests, wetlands, deserts, and grasslands, every 2.5 minutes between 2001 and 2011—mainly due to urbanization. That is among the revelations in a joint report and mapping project by the Center for American Progress and the nonprofit Conservation Science Partners.

“Natural areas in the West are going fast,” the authors of the report write in its introduction. “With each flight home, we get a bird’s eye view of sprawling new roads, oil wells, and pipelines. The Oregon woods we explored as kids are now stumps without songbirds. We see fewer stars through Santa Fe’s brightening lights.”