In December, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that five of the eight fastest growing
states in the country are in the West – Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Colorado .
From disappearing open space, to overcrowded schools, to traffic congestion, the head-
spinning pace of development in the West poses huge challenges. Western Progress will
be working with policymakers in the region to develop smart growth initiatives like that
announced recently by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as well as local and state efforts to
preserve open landscapes.
A particularly acute problem in the West is the rapid disappearance of ranch and
agricultural land , documented in Colorado College's 2006 State of the Rockies report.
The many threats to western ranch lands are detailed in a report by American Farmland
Trust and strategies for saving agricultural land in the West in another report.
Rampant development doesn't just threaten western aesthetics, it also has impacts on
wildlife and health , as documented by Smart Growth America .
Development doesn't always have to be destructive , as the Sierra Club indicates in
highlighting some showcase projects. And there are many tools for keeping farm and
ranch land open .
Many states in the West have organizations that work for reasonable development
policies, including 1000 Friends of New Mexico , the Colorado Sprawl Action Center ,
Envision Utah , and the Montana Smart Growth Coalition , among others.