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Fact Sheet 2013–3046

Prepared in cooperation with the Plains & Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Land-Use Change, Economics, and Rural Well-Being in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States

By William R. Gascoigne, Dana L.K. Hoag, Rex R. Johnson, Lynne M. Koontz, and Catherine Cullinane Thomas

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (8.37 MB)Abstract

This fact sheet highlights findings included in a comprehensive new report (see USGS Professional Paper 1800) which investigated land-use change, economic characteristics, and rural community well-being in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States. Once one of the largest grassland-wetlands ecosystems on earth, the North American prairie has experienced extensive conversion to cultivated agriculture, with farming becoming the dominant land use in the region over the last century. Both perennial habitat lands and agricultural croplands retain importance economically, socially, and culturally. Greatly increased oil and gas development in recent years brought rises in employment and income but also stressed infrastructure, cost of living, and crime rates. Research described in these reports focuses on land-use dynamics and illuminates how economic variables and rural development in the Prairie Pothole Region might be influenced as land uses change.

First posted July 17, 2013

For additional information contact:
Director, Fort Collins Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2150 Centre Ave., Bldg. C
Fort Collins, CO 80526

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Gascoigne, W.R., Hoag, D.L.K., Johnson, R.R., Koontz, L.M., and Thomas, C.C., 2013, Land-use change, economics, and rural well-being in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3046, 6 p.,




Evolution of Land Use in the Prairie Pothole Region

The Farm and Non-Farm Economies

Rural Development and Well-Being

Concluding Remarks on the Health of the Prairie Pothole Region Economy

Selected References

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