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July 29, 2010

The most densely populated state in the country is becoming ever more urbanized, according to a report by Rowan and Rutgers Universities that looked at the pace of development between 1986 and 2007. Between 2002 and 2007, New Jersey lost 16,000 acres each year -- mostly forest -- to urban sprawl. That was four times the growth of population in the Garden State. The report sounds an alarm regarding the state’s deforestation, as it notes that as of 2007, New Jersey had more acres of subdivisions and shopping centers than it had in forests, which include the Pinelands and parks and reserves. Indeed, in the five-year period between 2002-2007, New Jersey lost 66.3 square miles (or 7 percent) of its forest footprint, most of which does not receive preservation protection by the state. Over the entire 21 years studied, New Jersey saw the greatest loss of land in agriculture, with 24 percent becoming more urbanized. New Jersey still has about 1.5 million acres of open space, much of which is protected.

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