When speaking to audiences on the subject of the environment, I’m often confronted with people who express concerns about “urban sprawl,” and “over-development.” And polls suggest such concerns are widespread: In a March 2011, Gallup poll, 57% of people worried a great deal/fair amount about "urban sprawl and loss of open space;" and 42% of people said they worried "not much/not at all" about the same issue.
With so many people worried, the pie chart, below, offers some interesting context. Note that only about 3 percent of the US is urbanized. 56 percent is forest and pasture. The second chart below, shows the trends in land use over time.
Note that while urban areas have expanded, agricultural lands have contracted. Special use areas (parks, conservation areas, etc.) have seen the most obvious and sustained expansion since 1945.