Protected Areas Database of the U.S.

Overview

The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) illustrates and describes public land ownership, management and conservation lands nationally, including voluntarily provided privately protected areas. The lands included in PAD-US are assigned conservation measures that qualify their intent to manage lands for the preservation of biological diversity and to other natural, recreational and cultural uses; managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means.

Data Layer Description

Source

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Gap Analysis Program (GAP)

What this data layer represents

The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) illustrates and describes public land ownership, management and conservation lands nationally, including voluntarily provided privately protected areas. The lands included in PAD-US are assigned conservation measures that qualify their intent to manage lands for the preservation of biological diversity and to other natural, recreational and cultural uses; managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means.

Location

United States

Description

The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) illustrates and describes public land ownership, management, and conservation lands nationally, including voluntarily provided privately protected areas. The lands included in PAD-US are assigned conservation measures that qualify their intent to manage lands for the preservation of biological diversity and to other natural, recreational, and cultural uses; managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means.

The geodatabase includes: 

  1. Geographic boundaries of public land ownership and voluntarily provided private conservation lands (e.g., Nature Conservancy Preserves)
  2. The combination land owner, land manager, management designation or type, parcel name, GIS Acres, and source of geographic information of each mapped land unit 
  3. GAP Status Code: a conservation measure of each parcel based on USGS National Gap Analysis Program (GAP) protection level categories, which are intended to provide a measurement of management commitment for long-term biodiversity conservation derived from land management plans or land manager interviews 
  4. IUCN category for a protected area's inclusion into UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre's World Database for Protected Areas. IUCN defines protected areas as "a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values" and categorizes them following a classification scheme available through USGS GAP
  5. World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA) Site Codes linking the multiple parcels of a single protected area in PAD-US and connecting them to the Global Community

How to get the data layer

Download PAD-US (USGS)

How you might make use of this data layer

All information is created with a specific end use or uses in mind. This is especially true for GIS data, which is expensive to produce and must be directed to meet the immediate program needs. However, these data were created with the expectation that they would be used for other applications; therefore, we list below both appropriate and inappropriate uses. This list is in no way exhaustive but should serve as a guide to assess whether a proposed use can or cannot be supported by these data. For many uses, it is unlikely that PAD-US will provide the only data needed, and for uses with a regulatory outcome, field surveys should verify the result. In the end, it will be the responsibility of each data user to determine if these data can answer the question being asked, and if they are the best tool to answer that question.

Appropriate uses of the data: primarily as a coarse map for a large area such as a county or to provide context for finer-level maps. A general list of possible applications include:

  • National, regional or statewide biodiversity planning
  • National, Regional or state habitat conservation planning
  • County comprehensive planning
  • Large-area resource management planning
  • Coarse-filter evaluation of potential impacts or benefits of major projects or plan initiatives on biodiversity, such as utility or transportation corridors, wilderness proposals, regional open space and recreation proposals, etc.
  • Determining relative amounts of management responsibility for specific biological resources among land stewards to facilitate cooperative management and planning
  • Basic research on regional distributions of plants and animals and to help target both specific species and geographic areas for needed research
  • Environmental impact assessment for large projects or military activities
  • Estimation of potential economic impacts from loss of biological resource-based activities
  • Education at all levels and for both students and citizens

Inappropriate Uses

It is far easier to identify appropriate uses than inappropriate ones, however, there is a "fuzzy line" that is eventually crossed when the differences in resolution of the data, size of geographic area being analyzed, and precision of the answer required for the question are no longer compatible. Examples include:

  • Using the data to map small areas (less than thousands of hectares), typically requiring mapping resolution at 1:24,000 scale and using aerial photographs or ground surveys
  • Combining these data with other data finer than 1:100,000 scale to produce new hybrid maps or answer queries
  • Generating specific areal measurements from the data finer than the nearest thousand hectares
  • Establishing exact boundaries for regulation or acquisition
  • Establishing definite occurrence or non-occurrence of any feature for an exact geographic area
  • Determining abundance, health, or condition of any feature.
  • Establishing a measure of accuracy of any other data by comparison with GAP data
  • Altering the data in any way and redistributing them as a GAP data product
  • Using the data without acquiring and reviewing the metadata and this report

How to get more information

Lisa Duarte
USGS Gap Analysis Program - University of Idaho
Stewardship Coordinator
530 South Asbury Street, Suite #1
Moscow, ID 83843
(208) 885-3013

Sample Map

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