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January 2002
Increased urbanization often comes at the expense of intact forest cover. Thurston County’s forest cover was reduced by almost 13,000 acres, or 3% of the total land area, over the last 15 years as a result of urbanization of forest lands. Five thousand acres of forest cover loss occurred in the cities, towns, and designated urban growth areas of the county. A further loss of 8,000 acres occurred in the rural county.

Understanding the changes that take place in land cover in Thurston County provides an important tool to understanding the health of our natural systems, including streams, wetlands, and marine shorelines. Recent scientific evidence has found a direct correlation between forest cover, urban cover (impervious area), and stream conditions. Mapping land cover change can help planners in Thurston County understand recent trends in stream, wetland, and marine shoreline health decline.

The Rate of Urbanization and Forest Harvest in Thurston County, 1985-2000. TRPC 2002 (PDF)