The Guide to the American Dream


Why We Defend the American Dream




Land Use

Open Space


Smart-Growth Disasters



Open Space References & Experts

Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2002 (1.2-mb pdf)
Authors: Ruben N. Lubowski, Marlow Vesterby, Shawn Bucholtz, Alba Baez, and Michael J. Roberts
Citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2006, 46 pp.
Summary: 61 percent of the contiguous 48 states are agricultural land while only 3.1 percent is urban. Since 1945, urban land increased from 15 to 60 million acres. But forest lands increased from 600 to 650 million acres while crop lands remained constant. The biggest changes have been a 180-million acre increase in parks and wilderness areas and a 195-million acre decline in pasture and grazing lands.
Quote: "Lands occupied by roads increased from 20.2 million acres in 1959 to 21.8 million in 2002."

The "Vanishing Farmland" Myth and the Smart-Growth Agenda (276-kb pdf) by Sam Staley (Buckeye Institute)

Flawed Federal Land-Use Report Encourages Unnecessary Federal Spending (116-kb pdf) by Wendell Cox ( and Ronald Utt (Heritage Foundation) shows how the original 1997 Natural Resources Inventory overestimated the rate of development of farms and open space. The inventory was later withdrawn and revised.

Preparing for the Storm: Preserving Water Resources with Stormwater Utilities (3-mb pdf) by Barrett Walker shows how cities can protect open space while reducing the costs of dealing with stormwater runoff.