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Stop Sprawl
1998 Sierra Club Sprawl Report: 30 Most Sprawl-Threatened Cities

Ten Most Sprawl-Threatened Medium Cities
Number Three: Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in the United States.

Between 1990 and 1996, the population of the region increased by almost 190 percent. While other city cores are losing people, Las Vegas runs aggressively counter to that trend. Every nine minutes someone moves to Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. The population is expected to double by 2020.

In the first six years of the 1990s, the size of the Las Vegas urbanized area increased by 238 percent, according to the U.S. Highway Administration. In addition, the amount of the region's open space consumed by development increased by 50 percent between 1982 and 1992. In Clark County, open space development increased by almost 99 percent in that same period.

The city has extremely serious air and water pollution and overuse problems as a result of its rampant expansion. Growth is starting to put strains on the ecologically fragile Mojave Desert. The wildlife habitat and water quality and quantity of the Colorado River, named one of the nation's most endangered rivers in 1997 and 1998, have been damaged by diversions to serve the exploding population of this southwestern urban area. Exhaust from greater numbers of cars on the roads is unable to escape over the mountains and accumulates in the valley.

As the city grows, the water supply for this arid expanse also comes under rising pressure. Pollutants, an ever-present consequence of development, flow into water supply sources at increasing levels. The higher the rate of development, the more difficult the purification process.

One-third of the regions residents believe strongly that growth should be contained immediately, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The proposed Ring Around the Valley plan which was rejected by the legislature in 1997 would have halted growth beyond a boundary. While state Sen. Dina Titus of Las Vegas plans to introduce it again next year, the Southern Nevada Strategic Planning Authority will counter with a plan of its own, a 20-year blueprint for the future of urban Las Vegas which will tout growth.

Read the Report | Clickable Sprawl Map | Sprawl-Threatened Cities

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