Open space is vital to the nation’s health, economy and well-being. Public and private lands, including wilderness and working land, provide public benefits and ecosystem services we all need and enjoy, including:
- Clean water
- Natural flood control
- Wildlife habitat and biodiversity
- Recreation and relaxation
- Timber and other forest products
An estimated 6,000 acres of open space are lost each day, a rate of 4 acres per minute. Looking ahead, the Forests on the Edge project estimates that 57 million acres of private forest lands could experience sizeable increases in housing density by 2030. Public forests are also affected. The National Forests on the Edge publication estimates that 21 million acres of private rural lands near national forests and grasslands will experience substantial housing density increases by 2030.
The Forest Service developed an Open Space Conservation Strategy to identify how the agency can best help conserve open space, with an emphasis on partnerships and collaborative approaches.