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The North Central Appalachians ecoregion, spanning northern Pennsylvania and southern New York, has a long history of land use and land cover change. Turn-of-the-century logging dramatically altered the natural landscape of the ecoregion, but subsequent regeneration returned the ecoregion to a forest dominated condition. To understand contemporary land use and land cover changes, the U.S. Geological Survey with NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used a random sample of satellite remotely sensed data for 1973, 1980, 1986, 1992, and 2000 to estimate the rates and assess the primary drivers of change in the North Central Appalachians. The overall change was 6.2%. The 1973-1980 period had the lowest rate of change (1.5%); the highest rate (2.9%) occurred during the 1992-2000 period. The primary conversions were deforestation through harvesting and natural disturbance (i.e., tornados) followed by regeneration, and conversion of forests to mining and urban lands. The primary drivers of the change included changes in access, energy and forest prices, and attitudes toward the environment.
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Land use and land cover change in the North Central Appalachians ecoregion