Texas Rural Lands: Trends and Conservation Implications for the 21st Century

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This report describes the key findings of an analysis of the status and recent changes in ownership size, land  use and property values of private farms, ranches and forestlands in Texas. The goal of this work is to provide  public and private decision makers with the data they need to plan for the conservation of working rural lands  in Texas. Included in this report are four summaries describing results of technical analyses upon which many  of our conclusions are based. Our primary data sources were the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts  (who provided a 1992-2001 annual compilation of land use and land value data from 1,032 independent school  districts), and the U.S.D.A. Agricultural Statistics Service. We also obtained data from the U. S. Census Bureau,  U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Inventory, and the U. S. Department of Commerce/Bureau of Economic Analysis–Regional Economic Information System. We used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) base maps obtained from the Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS). This work was made possible by grants to American Farmland Trust from the Meadows Foundation and Houston Endowment, Inc.

Our specific objectives were to:

  • Assess the current status and recent trends in rural land ownership size, land use and property values in Texas;
  • Determine relationships among land size, land use and property values;
  • Develop a map-based simulation model for projecting future trends in rural lands, and use this model to explore  the implications of initiating a Purchase of Development Rights program;
  • Encourage the development of policies for conserving productive rural lands and wildlife habitats in Texas; and
  • Provide public access to these data using a Web site with interactive mapping and custom data queries.

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