Explore Places and Topics

Over the past two decades, the players and the methods for protecting and extending America's conservation estate have changed. Once mainly the responsibility of the federal government, land protection has increasingly arisen from local grassroots partnerships between communities, land trusts, private landowners, sportsmen, corporations, and public agencies. Learn about America's conservation lands, where they're found, and the challenges and opportunities they face.


  • Open Space 101

    Public or private, protected or unprotected, wilderness or working lands -- America's open spaces are a cherished part of our national and local identities. Learn where open space is, why it's important, and where it's at risk.

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  • Conservation Lands

    From wilderness to pocket parks, recreational open space to working farms, ranches, and forests, the lands that make up America's conservation estate are nearly as varied as the human and natural communities that depend on them.

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  • Plants and Animals

    America's plant and animal species constitute the living fabric of our natural habitats and open spaces. Although open spaces are valued for many reasons, their role in sheltering and sustaining abundant wildlife is of primary importance for many people.

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  • Ecosystems and Habitats

    Ecological systems represent recurring groups of living organisms found in similar physical settings and influenced by similar dynamic processes like fire or flooding. For conservationists and resource managers, ecological systems providing a classification unit that is readily mappable, often from remote imagery, and readily identifiable in the field.

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  • Natural Geographies

    Effective conservation often requires working across humankind's political, historical, and economic boundaries, looking instead to more naturally defined areas. Despite their differences in scale, Ecoregions, Ecological Divisions, Watersheds, and Corridors can all provide valuable frameworks for shaping on-the-ground land and water protection efforts.

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  • Threats and Issues

    The combined -- and often unintended -- effects that human activities have on the natural world often intensifies the need for deliberate actions to conserve and protect land and their non-human inhabitants. Learn how scientists, conservationists, landowners, and citizens alike are addressing and mitigating the negative impact of individual threats.

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Go to the Map

Use the interactive map to zoom smoothly from a national view to state and local perspectives anywhere across the country.

Go Straight to Your State

Learn about conservation and open space in your state.

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