Conservative estimates put the rate at which privately-owned agricultural land (mostly ranchland) in the American West is being converted to suburbs and sprawl as high as an acre every minute. This includes some of America’s most valuable wildlife habitat; i. e., only 12% of the endangered species in the West can be found exclusively on public land. The other 88% exist either wholly or partially on the private land.
Also, a significant portion of publicly-owned open space in the West is managed as ranchland. Most people don’t even know that, with every farm or ranch that is developed, not only do we lose wildlife habitat, open space, and cultural and biological diversity on the private land occupied by that ranch, we lose those same values on adjoining public lands as well. And even more tragic we lose some of our best land stewards too.