Land Use Information: A Critical Survey of U.S. Statistics Including Possibilities for Greater Uniformity

Land Use Information: A Critical Survey of U.S. Statistics Including Possibilities for Greater Uniformity

Land Use Information: A Critical Survey of U.S. Statistics Including Possibilities for Greater Uniformity

Land Use Information: A Critical Survey of U.S. Statistics Including Possibilities for Greater Uniformity

Excerpt

Many persons and many organizations are interested in land use in the United States today. A growing population, rising real incomes per capita, and other factors have intensified the competition for the fixed area of land which our country contains. Land uses are changing in numerous and often complex ways, and further changes in the future seem certain.

In this dynamic situation, accurate, meaningful, current data on land use are essential. If public agencies and private organizations are to know what is happening, and are to make sound plans for their own future action, then reliable information is critical. But in the United States land use data have evolved gradually, piecemeal, to meet specific limited needs. They have often served those needs well. But no comprehensive system of collection, analysis, and publication of land use data has ever been put into operation. There has not even been full agreement as to land use definitions and concepts. Each specific data source has used definitions most useful for it, or most easily applied; each has tended to lump together highly varied uses which were not of prime interest to it. "One man's miscellaneous was another man's prime concern."

By and large, land use data for the United States are a hodge-podge. It is very difficult to obtain national total acreages for many land uses, on a consistent and meaningful definition. Several useful publications, notably those by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, have summarized and brought into reasonable comparison such data as do exist. But the authors of these studies are fully aware of the deficiencies of the data they use. Moreover, the situation is much worse if one attempts the same data compilation and summarization on a regional, state, or smaller geographical basis. Errors which average out or are concealed in national totals may become glaring for smaller areas.

We faced this problem when we prepared our book, Land for the Future . Our experience there emphasized for us the great need for improved statistics on land use in the United States. Other interested persons, notably Jerome P. Pickard of the Urban Land Institute and Hugh H. Wooten of . . .

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