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PNS Daily News - December 13, 2019 


Brexit wins at the polls in the U.K.; major changes come to New England immigration courts today; and more than a million acres in California have been cleared for oil and gas drilling.

2020Talks - December 13, 2013  


The House passes legislation to reign in drug prices, Sen. Bernie Sanders is on the upswing, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang plays Iowa congressional candidate J.D. Scholten - who's running against long-time incumbent Steve King - in a game of basketball.

Development Destroys U.S. Landscapes at Alarming Rate

Between 2001 and 2017, the U.S. human footprint nationwide expanded by 24 million acres, with states like North Dakota losing natural habitat primarily to oil and gas expansion. (sarahchristianson/hcn.org)
Between 2001 and 2017, the U.S. human footprint nationwide expanded by 24 million acres, with states like North Dakota losing natural habitat primarily to oil and gas expansion. (sarahchristianson/hcn.org)
August 9, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. is losing its wild landscape to energy, transportation, agriculture and urbanization at a rate of two football fields per minute, according to new research sounding alarms about what it means for future generations – especially in light of climate change.

The first comprehensive study of the lower 48 states shows how human modification is causing the loss and fragmentation of natural lands at an alarming rate, according to biologist and study author Brett Dickson, president of Conservation Science Partners.

He says Minnesota lost nearly 700,000 acres of natural lands from 2001 to 2017 – about 400,000 to urbanization.

"This eating away of some of the last wild places in the U.S. – I mean the places that offer our recreation and hunting opportunities, provide us with clean drinking water, space for wildlife to roam and to persist – there is a loss that we can't replace," he states.

Dickson says some states are losing natural landscapes at higher rates than others.

Minnesota was 13th on the list among the lower 48 states losing significant natural landscapes. North Dakota topped the list.

According to Dickson, satellite data shows over the same 16-year period, North Dakota lost 2.4 million acres of its natural lands.

"It's energy infrastructure and the expansion of the oil and gas fields in North Dakota that is just incredible to see,” he states. “And the visual is compelling, but troubling."

Dickson worries that America is losing part of its soul with the loss of natural landscapes, especially in the West. He maintains people need to be more engaged to prevent even greater land losses.

"We can be smarter about where change happens, and maybe even when it happens,” he stresses. “And these kinds of data are one of the best vehicles we have for making better decisions about urbanization, about transportation, about agriculture."

The Center for American Progress, which commissioned the study, advocates for protecting 30% of all U.S. lands and oceans by 2030 to maintain ecological stability.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN