The contiguous United States covers nearly 2 billion acres, or 3.1 million square miles. The US Dept of Agriculture tries to break down how that land is used by type—crops, timberland, wilderness, etc., but a detailed look at smaller portions of land use eluded the feds. So last year, two reporters with Bloomberg, Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby, analyzed land use down to the state and county level to make a series of maps that show in terrific detail just how American land is put to use.

Some interesting takeaways:

• A full 20 percent of the Lower 48 is devoted to raising crops
• Urban areas represent only 3.6 percent of land use
• National parks take up 29 million acres; state parks cover 15.3 million
• Federally designated Wilderness Areas make up 64.4 million acres
• Timberland, both federal and private, consumes 538.6 million acres
• 33 percent of land use is devoted to pastures


Check out the full series of maps produced by Bloomberg, here. It’s well worth a scroll through to visualize numbers that can often be meaningless out of context.

NPR recorded a podcast with the authors that you can listen to, below.

Top photo: Anukrati Omar