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A Closer Look at Forests on the Edge:
Future Development on Private Forests in Three States

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Privately owned forests provide many public benefits, including clean water and air, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. By 2030, 44.2 million acres of rural private forest land across the conterminous United States are projected to experience substantial increase in residential development. As housing density increases, the public benefits provided by private forests can be permanently altered.

In this report, we examine factors behind projected patterns of residential development and conversion of private forest land by 2030 in northwestern Washington, southern Maine, and northwestern Georgia. These areas were selected for detailed study because the first Forests on the Edge study (Stein et al. 2005) revealed that each contained a high percentage of watersheds with private forests that are projected to be developed.

Key Points Covered

  • Population growth migration is a key factor in Washington and Georgia, while much of the new residential development in Maine appears to be related to demand for second homes.
  • Ownership of forest land is changing in Washington, Georgia and Maine.
  • Ownership of forest land is changing in Washington, Georgia and Maine.
  • The legacy of different patterns of historical settlement continues to influence current development trends.
  • Land-use planning mechanisms and forest conservation efforts in the three states will influence the pattern of housing density in each study area.


White, Eric M.; Mazza, Rhonda. 2008. A closer look at forests on the edge: future development on private forests in three states. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-758. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 20 p.