Texas is comprised of 142 million acres of private farms, ranches and forests, leading the nation in land area devoted to privately owned working lands. These lands provide substantial economic, environmental and recreational resources that benefit all Texans.

Rapid population growth is driving suburbanization, rural development and ownership fragmentation that increasingly threatens working lands. These threats result in a fundamental change in the Texas landscape, impacting:

  • rural economies,
  • food and water security and
  • conservation of natural resources.

The Texas Land Trends project monitors the status and changes in land use, ownership size and land values of working lands. Research results are published as topic-based reports through the txlandtrends.org, an award-winning interactive website. Users can also explore and query the Texas Land Trends data through the web-based mapping service.

Texas Land Trends provides decision-makers and stakeholders with timely information to support the conservation and strategic planning of working lands within a spatially explicit context.  


Addie Smith

As a geospatial specialist, Addie Smith provides geospatial support within the geospatial analysis team for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute and the Texas Water Resources Institute. She assists in the development…

Kevin Skow

As the geospatial manager for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute and Texas Water Resources Institute, Kevin Skow provides geospatial support and serves as the lead for several projects within the geospatial and inf…

Alison Lund

As a program coordinator for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Alison Lund assists in the organization and management of research, monitoring, reporting and outreach and training efforts associated with various e…

Ross Anderson

As the data analytics manager for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute and the Texas Water Resources Institute, Ross Anderson provides leadership for web and desktop application planning, development and maintenance …


    Some landowners diversify as Texas working land declines

    The Big Bend Sentinel — Over a twenty-year period, Texas lost 2.2 million acres of working lands, with 1.2 million of those being converted to non-agricultural use in the last five years alone,  according to a new study of Texas land trends from 1997 to 2017 by Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute.

    NRI publishes Status Update and Trends of Texas Working Lands 1997-2017

    We are proud to present the long-awaited Texas Land TrendsStatus Update and Trends of Texas Working Lands 1997 - 2017  published in December 2019. Texas Land Trends reports have informed private and public landowners and decision-makers for over two decades. With this report, we are able to examine new patterns and identify trends following the release of the Census of Agriculture datasets by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS). These datasets provide key information for complex Texas natural resource challenges through the power of a “good map.”  The Texas Land Trends:  Status Update and Trends report is the fifth iteration and specifically describes the status and recent changes in land values, ownership size and land use of privately-owned Texas working lands. 

    New report shows changes in Texas borderlands over time

    The Madisonville Meteor—Changes in population density, rapid urbanization and rising land values have altered much of the historically rural landscape of the Texas borderlands, according to a recent Texas Land Trends report. 

    NRI releases first Conservation Easements in Texas publication

    This special series report describes the state’s current participation and growing need for land conservation easements. In this report we assess the value of all conservation easement acres in Texas within three broad categories of ecosystem services to describe the significant impact these lands have on the state's economy.

    Texas Land Trends tracks a changing state

    Is Texas a rural state? Yes. Eighty-three percent of the state’s lands are farms, ranches and forests. But it’s also an urban state. Eighty-six percent of Texans live in urban areas.

      Blog Posts

      A Look at Texas Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Support Network

      Texans will agree that you could never experience the full breadth of the state in one lifetime. It’s easy to identify the unique characteristics sprinkled throughout, ranging from the population composition and cultures, the native flora and fauna, and the spectacular river systems like the Red River in the north and the Rio Grande in the south. In true Texas form, you will also find a range of agricultural production strategies varying by regional differences in climate and landscape. At the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, we tell the story of our state’s privately-owned farms, ranches, and forests, otherwise known as working lands, which provide numerous ecological, economic and intrinsic benefits to our communities and beyond.

      Featured Map: Fragmentation Risk Index

      How we, as collective stakeholders in the state, balance our needs and the challenges from land-use changes will influence future outcomes for Texas’ open spaces. Where do we start?

      Map of the Month: Night Lights of Texas

      Through our Texas Land Trends project, we have been tracking and telling the story of rural land use changes and trends across the state for the past few decades. Using remotely sensed data, we can better illustrate these changes; especially those related to urban and energy industry growth.

      Texas Land Trends meets Real Estate

      Earlier this year, NRI was invited by the the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® (SABOR) Farm and Land Committee to present the story behind Texas Land Trends: How and Why Texas is Changing.

      The value of conservation easements: An interview with Roel Lopez

      Listen to Dr. Roel Lopez and Blair Fitzsimons, CEO of Texas Agricultural Land Trust, provide clarity on the importance of conservation easements in Texas from ensuring the public benefits remain available to helping future generations through the actions we can take now. 

      Map of the Month: Conservation Easements in Texas

      Our latest Texas Land Trends report examines conservation easements, an important tool that can complement both landowner and public needs by supporting rural economies, creating recreational opportunities. and providing intrinsic benefits.

      Map of the Month: Freshwater Mussels: Key Indicators of Ecosystem Health

      Freshwater mussels play an important role in the health of freshwater ecosystems by providing food and habitat for other aquatic species, stabilizing stream bottoms, and filtering the water in our lakes and rivers. The Rio Grande basin is home to three mussel species suffering from habitat loss and growing human populations in this area may be threatening the water systems necessary for their survival.

      Map of the Month: Bright lights and big cities: urban growth in Texas

      From scattered rural settlements to big cities, the density and distribution of people in Texas has changed dramatically over time. As "urban sprawl" continues to increase development in the outlying areas around cities, it will affect the resources, amenities, and job opportunities for the people who live there.

      Map of the Month: Wind Energy in Texas

      Texas is the largest wind energy producing state in the U.S. As the wind energy industry continues to expand, challenges of compatibility with other national priorities continue to be a consideration—including military training. 

      A Story Map: Habitat Requirements of Texas Quails

      A Texas Land Trends Story Map: Texas is home to four species of quails: Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Gambel’s Quail, and Montezuma Quail. Many Texans fondly recall experiences with quail, whether they were hunting or watching them, or just listening to their songs. Despite the interest in these quail species, their overall abundance, especially northern bobwhites, have declined over the past few decades. Recent research efforts seek to determine what factors have and continue to contribute to the decline of quail in Texas. 

      Map of the Month: Wildlife management land use acres

      While ag tax evaluations traditionally involve practices such as haying, cropping, grazing and livestock, the state added a wildlife management use component in 1995. This non-traditional approach to preserving open space lands and their values has gained momentum in the past two decades, as the total number of acres enrolled has risen from 93K in 1997 to 3.2M in 2012. So how do you qualify and what is the process to switch from a traditional ag use property to wildlife management use? 

        Related Projects