- Human footprint: Despite the prevalence of public land, many of the West’s iconic and least disturbed landscapes are vulnerable to human activities, putting biodiversity and wilderness values at risk.
- Land use: Population growth is a key driver, but agriculture uses most of the West’s water and has a bigger footprint than cities and suburbs
- Water: Growth and climate change are compounding the water crisis by increasing demands and jeopardizing supplies, but water quality is generally better out West than back East.
- Biodiversity: Habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change are the top threats to the West’s rich array of species and ecosystems.
- Wildfires: Climate change and the legacy of fire suppression will continue to make the wildfire season longer, costlier, and more destructive
- Public opinion: Americans—and Westerners in particular—often support environmentalists’ goals, but hostility toward the movement may be growing.
- Funding: Budgets for federal environmental agencies are relatively steady and conservation ballot measures usually pass, but considerably fewer have been put to voters during the economic downturn.