Florida became the third-largest state in 2014, and if the trend continues, 33 million people will call it home by 2070, according to a University of Florida report.
The report was sponsored by One Thousand Friends of Florida, a group that promotes responsible growth management. If current trends continue, according to the report, Florida’s 6.4 million acres of concrete and asphalt would nearly double by 2070.
But that doesn’t have to happen, says Thousand Friends’s Vivian Young. The report says land conservation and urban infill, or steering more growth into cities, could save more than 2 million acres of open space.
“Hopefully this can be used as a tool to educate people that the decisions being made today really are important and really do have long-term ramifications. I don’t think it’s going to change things overnight, but hopefully it will help get a better dialogue going on what the issues are and what needs to be done.”
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also contributed to the report. Researchers recommend programs like rural and family lands that pay ranchers not to develop their property.