2017 National Resources Inventory

The National Resources Inventory (NRI) is a statistical survey of natural resource conditions and trends on non-Federal land in the United States. Non-Federal lands include privately owned lands, tribal and trust lands, and lands controlled by state and local governments.

The NRI provides nationally consistent statistical data on the development of non-Federal rural lands for the period 1982-2017. To assess conservation issues this information on development must be analyzed in conjunction with other NRI data elements. Development of agricultural land represents essentially permanent loss of land from the production of food, feed, and fiber.

Michigan Developed Land


Developed Land
In thousands of acres, with margins of error
Developed Land 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 2007 2012 2017
Large Urban and Built-Up Areas 2,091.4
± 131.6
± 139.1
± 149.9
± 160.9
± 145.4
± 149.2
± 146.9
± 148.2
Small Built-Up Areas 349.1
± 21.9
± 19.7
± 17.9
± 22.8
± 42.7
± 41.9
± 42.3
± 43.6
Rural Transportation 377.0
± 13.8
± 13.1
± 11.4
± 12.1
± 13.5
± 13.9
± 14.1
± 14.4
Total Developed Land 2,817.5
± 129.5
± 140.1
± 147.4
± 160.8
± 159.8
± 161.8
± 163.8
± 165.0
Developed Land bar chart, see Developed Land table for data values


Sources of Developed Land from Non-Federal Rural Land
In thousands of acres,
with margins of error
Land Cover/Use ----- 1982 to 2017 -----
Cropland 508.9
± 56.0
Pastureland 245.9
± 36.8
Rangeland 0.0
Forest Land 652.9
± 55.8
Other Rural Land 55.0
± 12.4
Total 1,462.7
± 72.6
• Cropland includes cultivated and non-cultivated cropland.
• When the estimate is 0.0, margins of error are not applicable and shown as a dashed line (--).

About the Data

Estimates presented here are based upon the latest information from the National Resources Inventory (NRI). The NRI is a longitudinal sample survey based upon scientific statistical principles and procedures. It is conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in cooperation with Iowa State University’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology.

These results are based upon the 2017 NRI, which provides nationally consistent data for the 35-year period 1982–2017. Current estimates cover the contiguous 48 States, Hawaii, and the Caribbean Area.

Release of NRI results is guided by NRCS policy and is in accordance with OMB and USDA Quality of Information Guidelines developed in 2001. NRCS is releasing NRI estimates only when they meet statistical standards and are scientifically credible in accordance with these policies; also, measures of statistical uncertainty are provided for all 2017 NRI estimates released to the public.

The findings on land use come from the NRI data category "Land Cover/Use," which comprises mutually exclusive categories such as cropland, rangeland, forest land, other rural land, developed land, and water areas. The NRI uses this classification to account for every acre of non-Federal land within the Nation. Every parcel of land is described by one and only one of these categories.

The NRI approach to conducting inventories facilitates examining trends in rural and developed land uses over time because—

  • the same sample sites have been studied since 1982;
  • the same data have been collected since 1982 [definitions and protocols have remained the same];
  • the inventory accounts for 100 percent of the surface area;
  • quality assurance and statistical procedures are designed/developed to ensure that trend data are scientifically legitimate and unambiguous; and
  • it is easy to track lands as they go from one land-use category to another.

Irrespective of the scale of analysis, margins of error must be considered. Margins of error (at the 95 percent confidence level) are presented for all NRI estimates. Note that estimates of change between two points in time will be less precise (relatively) than estimates for a single inventory year because the changes will be occurring on a smaller fraction of the landscape.


  • Land cover/use. A term that includes categories of land cover and categories of land use. Land cover is the vegetation or other kind of material that covers the land surface. Land use is the purpose of human activity on the land; it is usually, but not always, related to land cover. The NRI uses the term land cover/use to identify categories that account for all the surface area of the United States.
    • Developed land. A combination of land cover/use categories, large urban and built-up areas, small built-up areas, and rural transportation land.
      • Urban and built-up areas. A land cover/use category consisting of residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional land; construction sites; public administrative sites; railroad yards; cemeteries; airports; golf courses; sanitary landfills; sewage treatment plants; water control structures and spillways; other land used for such purposes; small parks (less than 10 acres) within urban and built-up areas; and highways, railroads, and other transportation facilities if they are surrounded by urban areas. Also included are tracts of less than 10 acres that do not meet the above definition but are completely surrounded by urban and built-up land. Two size categories are recognized in the NRI: areas of 0.25 acre to 10 acres, and areas of at least 10 acres.
      • Large urban and built-up areas. A land cover/use category composed of developed tracts of at least 10 acres—meeting the definition of urban and built-up areas.
      • Small built-up areas. A land cover/use category consisting of developed land units of 0.25 to 10 acres, which meet the definition of urban and built-up areas.
      • Rural transportation land. A land cover/use category which consists of all highways, roads, railroads and associated right-of-ways outside urban and built-up areas; also includes private roads to farmsteads or ranch headquarters, logging roads, and other private roads (field lanes are not included).
  • Margins of Error. Margins of error are reported for each NRI estimate. The margin of error is used to construct the 95 percent confidence interval for the estimate. The lower bound of the interval is obtained by subtracting the margin of error from the estimate; the upper bound is obtained by adding the margin of error to the estimate. Confidence intervals can be created for various levels of significance which is a measure of how certain we are that the interval contains the true value we are estimating. A 95 percent confidence interval means that in repeated samples from the same population, 95 percent of the time the true underlying population parameter will be contained within the lower and upper bounds of the interval.

For more definitions see the full 2017 NRI Glossary

More Information

For more information about the NRI, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/NRI/

Send comments and questions to the NRI Help Desk

The data in this report can be downloaded here

Return to the RCA Interactive Data Viewer

Citation for this website:
U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2017.
2017 National Resources Inventory.
Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington, DC. 31 October 2020 *

*[use date the website was accessed]