Between 1982 and 1997 America converted approximately 25 million acres (39,000 square miles) of rural land — forests, rangeland, pastures, cropland, and wetlands — to developed land: that is, sub-divisions, freeways, factories, strip malls, airports, and the like.
Over a 20-year period (1970-1990), the 100 largest Urbanized Areas in the United States sprawled out over an additional 14,545 square miles. That was more than 9 million acres of
- natural habitats,
- and other rural space that were covered over by the asphalt, buildings and sub-divisions of suburbia.
And that was just for the half of Americans who live in those 100 cities. Americans have become increasingly alarmed, making urban sprawl one of the nation's hottest political issues.