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Data from two different satellites, a digital land cover map, and digital census data were analyzed and combined in a geographic information system to study the effect of urbanization on photosynthetic productivity in the United States. Results show that urbanization can have a measurable but variable impact on the primary productivity of the land surface. Annual productivity can be reduced by as much as 20 days in some areas, but in resource limited regions, photosynthetic production can be enhanced by human activity. Overall, urban development reduces the productivity of the land surface, and those areas with the highest productivity are directly in the path of urban sprawl.