Has New York become 'land poor?'

When people residing in states far away from New York visualize the Empire State, many of those who've never been here envision concrete and steel, the New York City skyline, and wall-to-wall people and traffic. That may be the price we pay for having our entire state named after our largest city. But those of us who live or have visited "upstate" know better ... for New York, despite its urbanized image, still harbors a lot of open space, and much of it consists of public forest acreage.

According to a study done by the National Wilderness Institute in 1995 the most current figures I could locate New York ranks tenth in the nation in the percentage of public land within its border. Of the 30,223,400 total acres in the state, 11,174,550 acres, or almost 37 percent, of it is public land. And that figure has probably grown since during the Pataki administration the State has acquired more land since the study was done.

The Adirondack, Catskill and Allegany parks account for over 3 million of those public acres, but that still leaves about 8 million acres of public land acreage across the rest of the state, much of it in the form of state forests and parks. Statemaster.com lists New York as having 18.4 million acres of forest lands, ranking it twelfth in the nation, but ahead of such historically "forested states" as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Even Montana. The "Big Sky State," only has 34.86 percent of its land in forested acreage.

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