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Lost Open Space in Texas


0 sq. mi.
82 sq. mi.
164 sq. mi.
246 sq. mi.
328 sq. mi.
410 sq. mi.

Texas lost 6634 square miles

of open space

Loss related to population
Loss related to consumption

1. "Population" refers to increase in population.

2. "Consumption" refers to increase in developed land consumption per capita (per person).

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The cause of the loss of 6,634 square miles of open space between 1982-2017 was overwhelmingly a result of a single phenomenon:

  • 70% of rural land loss was related to POPULATION GROWTH: About 4,644 square miles of rural land were developed to handle the additional consumption needs caused by Texas having approximately 13 million (an 85% increase) more people in 2017 than in 1982.
  • 30% of rural land loss was related to GROWTH OF DEVELOPED LAND PER RESIDENT resulting from ALL OTHER FACTORS: About 1,990 square miles of sprawl between 1982 and 2017 were rural land lost because of dozens of factors that increased the average amount of developed land per person in the state. This developed land provides not only the residence for each person but also the share of shopping malls, streets, schools, government buildings, utility infrastructure, waste treatment facilities, parking lots, vacation homes, resorts, highways, and places of employment, worship, and entertainment. On average, while many Texans were living more densely, this was not enough to offset the increased number of Texans.
  • Loss of Open Space in Texas (1982-2017)

    168 Square Miles Square Miles 1,038 Due to Population Growth Due to All Other Factors

    Sources of Texas’s Population Growth

    During the 1982-2017 period, Members of Congress more than doubled the national population growth that is driven by immigration policies. Besides the direct effect in Texas, immigration policies have created acute population pressures across the country, driving residents to flee into less-densely-populated states. California is the No. 1 state source of Texas population growth.

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    Total Percentage of Developed Land

    2050 projection is population growth is reduced by half