What Makes the New West Unique?

The EcoWest initiative analyzes, visualizes, and shares data on environmental trends of the New West: "The West is as much a cultural invention as a geographical construct, so it’s a difficult place to define. Ranging from the driest of deserts to the wettest of rainforests, the lands of Western North America include an incredible diversity of ecosystems and people.

But in many ways, the eleven states of the American West do hang together as a region. The public domain dominates many states and the landscape tends to be much drier than the rest of the country. It is a land with limited water supplies, but vast tracts of open space, a region where extreme topography gives rise to an exceptionally rich array of species."

Five characteristics set the New West apart:

  • abundant public land
  • aridity
  • rollercoaster topography
  • diversity of species and ecosystems
  • growing population

Five ways in which the New West stands out. Source: Mitch Tobin, ecowest.org, 2013.