Jeremy Beck's picture

Published:  

  by  Jeremy Beck

Polling done for the release of our national study found that "sizeable majorities of Americans feel strongly about the need to protect farmland and natural habitats for themselves, for their fellow Americans, for posterity, and for the nation's wildlife."

"Large majorities also indicated it was important to have ready access to natural areas and open space and that they felt spiritually and emotionally rejuvenated by the time they spent in natural areas," write the report's authors.

However, open space is being lost to other land uses at an alarming rate. Each day in America, an estimated 6,000 acres of open space is developed.

As our population grows, parks and beaches simply cannot keep pace with the demand. Unless America can achieve a stable sustainable population, the loss of our remaining open spaces will accelerate. This is why Congress must revisit our immigration policies and respond with appropriate measures. The Census Bureau projects the U.S. population will add 75 million people by the Year 2060, with roughly 90 percent of that growth resulting from immigration.

The loss of open space is felt most acutely near the urbanized areas where most Americans live.

Over the past 20 years, an estimated 17,800 square miles of natural and agricultural lands were converted into residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation land uses. This is more than double the land area of New Jersey.

Despite, and perhaps because of, the growing population density of our nation, Americans more than ever feel strongly about the need to protect open spaces, which include forests and grasslands, farms and ranches, streams and rivers, and parks. Not only do these areas support agricultural and forest production, they also provide ecosystem services, including clean water, natural flood control, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and recreational opportunities.

Access to wide-open spaces is as American as apple pie. America’s open spaces, whether majestic or modest, are an integral part of American culture. These are places where people can find solitude, enjoy peace-of-mind, and observe nature in action, e.g., birds calling for prospective mates, a handful of bees buzzing around a patch of wildflowers, a cool breeze blowing through the trees. To bear witness to nature’s cycles can be inspiring and can renew our spirits and remind us of our life’s purpose — to derive joy from simple pleasures.

JEREMY BECK is a V.P., Deputy Director for NumbersUSA

Updated: Tue, Sep 27th 2022 @ 1:59pm EDT

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