NumbersUSA Sprawl Studies
Texas remains one of the fastest growing states in the U.S. Between 1982 and 2017, its population grew by 13 million, almost doubling over a 35-year span. During that same time, Texas lost 6,634 square miles of open space. About 4,644 square miles, 70% of total lost open space, were developed due to population growth. Immigration accounted for 47% of population increase in the Lone Star State.
To accommodate more than four million additional residents over the last four decades –mostly from other countries and other states – Arizona’s cities have sprawled over vast areas of fragile ecosystems, particularly the desert biomes surrounding Phoenix and Tucson.
Nineteen years after NumbersUSA published our first study, sprawl is still devouring valuable farmland and wildlife habitat, both in Oregon and nationwide. But national and state environmental groups, by and large, have shifted their focus to other issues and away from the loss of habitat and open space due to the unsustainable outward expansion of cities in America.
Sprawl Still a Problem After All These Years (and Americans and Oregonians Are Still Concerned).....
In just the eight years from 2002 to 2010, over 8.3 million acres (approximately 13,000 square miles) of farmland and natural habitat succumbed to the bulldozer’s blade. This study finds that around 70% of those losses around Urbanized Areas over the last decade were related to the nation's continuing trend of high population growth. Nearly all long-term population growth in the United States is in the hands of federal policy makers, because nearly all long-term population growth is related to federal immigration policies that have quadrupled the annual level of immigration.
Texas is one of the fastest-growing states and is growing more in total population than any other state in the U.S. Four of the top ten fastest-growing cities in the U.S. are in Texas, and five out of the top fifteen.
Texas Triangle Report
The southern Piedmont (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia) is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. The result is rapidly vanishing open spaces. Population growth in the region is driving sprawl, causing 86% of the loss of open space from 1982 to 2012. Per capita land consumption is responsible for the other 14%. Local, state, and national policies are responsible for attracting new residents to the Piedmont, and immigration policy plays a large role, as 40% of population growth in the southern Piedmont is due to new immigrants and their children.
The Florida of orchards, grasslands, marshes, pine scrub and open beaches continues to disappear at a rapid rate under the bulldozer’s blade of constant new development. How much of that is related to consumption and development patterns and how much of it is related to the increase in the number of Florida residents is the focus of this study.
How much natural habitat and farmland did your state and city destroy in the last decade to accommodate expanding populations and individual appetites for developed land?
To date, almost all efforts to combat sprawl have focused on “Smart Growth” strategies, which primarily seek to create denser settlement by changing land use practices. Our findings indicate this approach will have limited success in saving rural land from development because it fails to address a key reason for sprawl — population growth.
Does a growing population contribute to urban sprawl? The relationship between population growth and sprawl appears obvious to some but is denied or minimized by just as many. What has been lacking is a systematic, comprehensive, consistent means of quantifying the role of population growth in sprawl in recent decades. A national study by NumbersUSA, “Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities” does just that.
Florida's phenomenal population growth has been the No. 1 factor in the state's urban sprawl, according to the results of this study released during Florida OverPopulation Awareness Week (October 29 - November 4, 2000). In fact, in most Urbanized Areas of Florida, the amount of land per resident did not grow at all, indicating that growth in per capita consumption was not a factor in any of the sprawl in those cities.