Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 4, 2019

Contact:  Kelley Dennings,, (919) 355-8102

Rapid Population Growth in West, South Comes at High Cost to Wildlife

Census Estimates U.S. Population More Than 328 Million at Start of 2019

WASHINGTON— According to population estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 328 million people rang in the new year in the United States. This is an increase of more than 2 million people from the previous year.

The growth was concentrated in western and southern states, where communities and wildlife have felt increasing pressure from drought, severe weather, threats to public land and unsustainable development.

Utah, with the country’s highest birth rate, is the third-fastest growing state, behind Idaho and Nevada. The new estimate comes during efforts to slash federally protected lands in the state. The Trump administration has already cut more than 1 million acres from Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. The state faces intensifying threats to biodiversity and habitats created by rapid growth and development.

“Wildlife and wild places face pressures from a rapidly growing population as politicians and corporations gun to open public lands in high-growth areas to toxic mining, drilling and fracking,” said Kelley Dennings, a population campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Runaway growth and development will harm irreplaceable natural and cultural treasures and our incredible biodiversity.”

Utah and other states can address population-related problems by improving access to family planning, contraception and reproductive healthcare and integrating comprehensive sex education into schools. They can also adopt land-use planning and development policies that protect habitats, save wildlife corridors for species to move, and embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Alarmists have focused on the country’s slowing birth rate, but nearly half of all U.S. pregnancies are still unintended,” said Dennings. “A drop in the birth rate through better access to family planning resources should be celebrated. For the sake of people, wildlife and the planet, we need to start talking about our growing population and how reproductive freedom and sex education are critical to protecting our future.”

The Center's Population and Sustainability program advocates for rights-based, common-sense solutions, including universal access to contraception, reproductive healthcare and family planning services, education and equality for women and girls, and reducing our environmental footprint.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

More press releases