News Release

Forest Service Publication Highlights Importance of Open Space Conservation for Rural America

August 24, 2006 -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today announced a new publication which highlights the importance of open space, explores how growth trends in rural America are changing our forests, and offers ideas for balancing growth and conservation.

"Cooperating Across Boundaries: Partnerships to Conserve Open Space in Rural America" was developed by a team of Forest Service researchers and highlights key findings from numerous research studies. Developed as part of the Forest Service's emphasis on the "Four Threats," the publication focuses on the benefits of partnerships and working across jurisdictional boundaries to conserve open space in rural America. The loss of open space threatens the sustainability of our Nation's forests and grasslands. We lose approximately 6,000 acres of open space each day across the United States—a rate of four acres per minute. Land development is outpacing population growth, especially in rural areas where the pattern of growth is low density, dispersed housing.

The Nation's forests, both private and public, are particularly vulnerable. Counties with national forests and grasslands are experiencing some of the highest growth rates, as people move to be close to public lands. As the lands near national forest borders are subdivided, our ability to manage the public land for healthy forests and public enjoyment becomes increasingly difficult. Where forests are in private ownership, as the majority are, residential growth alters the ability of these forests to provide ecosystem services and public benefits such as water quality, wildlife habitat and a sustainable flow of forest products.

"Cooperating Across Boundaries: Partnerships to Conserve Open Space in Rural America" is designed to generate new discussions and partnerships. The information presented offers practical solutions and inspiration for meeting the challenges of open space conservation in the face of accelerating rural growth.

"The Forest Service is committed to helping find solutions," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. "We believe development and conservation of open space can be compatible and complementary when applied in strategic, collaborative ways." The three additional threats, faced by the nation’s forests and grasslands in the 21 st century, include fuels and fire, invasive species and unmanaged recreation.

The publication can be found at