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Protected Areas Stewards

PAD-US is developed in partnership with many organizations, including coordination groups at the federal level, lead organizations for each state and a number of national and other nongovernmental organizations whose work is closely related to PAD-US. This page details those relationships.


Federal Data Stewards

The FGDC Federal Lands Working Group (FLWG) includes geospatial professionals from federal land management agencies and other federal stakeholders.  The group meets monthly to improve standards, the compatibility of attributes between agency datasets and to increase the efficiency of PAD-US updates. Because of the work of the FLWG, PAD-US is the best available source of aggregated federal land ownership and management designations from authoritative sources. For more information: or see the Federal Lands Working Group fact sheet.

State Stewards – Key PAD-US Partners

How PAD-US is built
PAD-US is developed in two main processes: lands integration among federal agencies (and some national nonprofits); and state by state inventories that are rolled into the national PAD-US structure by GAP. Other data are then linked to PAD-US, which is in turn adapted into various data products, as shown.

The U.S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program (GAP) invests in states to improve data sharing capacity, build state data inventories and increase PAD-US update efficiency. In each state an agency, university or nonprofit serves as the lead aggregating organization for PAD-US, for non-federal data. Stewards also assist GAP by refining PAD-US standards, assigning conservation (GAP Status Codes and/or IUCN Categories) or recreation measures (Public Access codes) and offering valuable local review of other protected area information. PAD-US State Data Stewards are the best available source of aggregated state, local government and private protected areas data in their state. To the extent of their capacity, Stewards provide annual geodatabase updates to support PAD-US, or sustainable intervals depending on resources. More information on state stewards and their capacities is provided below.

Steward Program and Objectives

In April 2008, GAP and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation supported a yearlong design project to develop the organizational and technical strategies needed to create a fully comprehensive and current inventory of America’s protected lands. The resulting proposal summarized in the July 2009 report, “A Map for the Future” relies heavily on the capacity of State Data Stewards. While resources do not yet exist to fully implement the PAD-US vision, current PAD-US data is vastly improved from 2008, interest from many agencies and organizations is rapidly growing and substantial progress has been made in developing the system imagined in “A Map for the Future”. An updated strategic report on PAD-US is expected Summer 2016.

GAP has committed to maintain PAD-US and implement recommendations from the design project to the extent possible, to help meet its mission of defining the degree of conservation protection in the U.S. and to support global assessments. A key GAP objective is to support, encourage and coordinate a state data network to improve protected area inventories, increase update efficiency and facilitate local review. GAP defines three levels of state data providers, based on their capacities. These can include state agencies, universities, non-profits working at state or multi-state levels, national non-profit conservation organizations and federal agencies:

  • High / Tier 1:  A state with complete or mostly complete aggregated protected areas data that is updated within at least the last one to three years and reasonably meets PAD-US data standards, and therefore requires little adjustment. (“mostly complete” means that all but small urban parks and open space are included in the state’s inventory – to be “complete”, the state’s GIS inventory should contain at least 95 percent of all protected lands)
  • Medium / Tier 2: A state with reliable but significantly incomplete aggregated data that may also not easily fit with the PAD-US schema or requires other revision. (“significantly incomplete” means that the aggregated data has not been updated within the past three-plus years or that the inventory lacks large areas of existing protected lands)
  • Moderate / Tier 3:A state that has only partial and/or non-current protected areas data in disaggregated form or that is otherwise difficult to integrate into PAD-US. (“non-current” means that data has not been updated within the past three-plus years; “disaggregated” means that data exists for individual agencies but is not integrated into a statewide collection)
State Steward CapacitiesState Steward Capacities
Summary of state data steward capacity to complete a protected areas inventory for the state and reasonably maintain PAD-US updates. See for latest information and details.


State Steward Grants

Over time, GAP and partners hope to channel a wide range of resources to states at each of these levels. From 2011-2016 GAP has invested $825,000 into PAD-US State Data Steward Network.  Contact the PAD-US Coordinator for more information.

Specific tasks for all stewards are:

  1. Define a common standard that facilitates the sharing of authoritative protected areas data between agencies, organizations and GAP that ultimately results in a complete and accurate inventory of protected areas for the United States to meet various conservation, recreation and public health needs. As each Steward reviews the PAD-US Data Standard and provides suggestions, continual improvements are made.
  1. Build the inventory or update state, local government and private conservation data (land trusts) in a PAD-US geodatabase checkout following national standards.
  1. Build data management capacity in the state, through interagency coordination and unique ID development, to increase the efficiency of future PAD-US updates.
  1. Provide review opportunities to improve protected area descriptors (e.g. name or designation) and conservation measures (e.g. Gap Status Code, IUCN Category).


The Status of PAD-US by State

USGS GAP has developed general estimates of “completeness” by state, to provide an overview of the status of PAD-US – see the maps at for more information. “Completeness” estimates the degree to which all (fee) protected areas are inventoried for the state and gives qualitative consideration for overall accuracy (boundary quality, attribute completion). These estimates are frequently under review by PAD-US State Stewards, so please check for a current view by state. Estimates of easement inventory completion are available from the National Conservation Easement Database.

Overall Inventory CompletenessState Steward Capacities
The overall completion levels of the PAD-US 1.4 inventory by state (including federal, state, local gov, NGO and land trust fee protected areas). Darker colors indicate a higher level of completion of inventories. The current strength of PAD-US is in the completion of federal and state lands data aggregation, as only a few states have complete local data.
State Lands InventoryState Lands Inventory
The status of just state lands in PAD-US 1.4. See for more information by state.
Latest PAD_US UpdateState Steward Capacities
The most recent year a state’s data was updated into PAD-US (not all states can be updated every year).
PAD-US State Data Steward NetworkPicture of PAD-US State Data Steward Network from
State Stewards are agencies, universities or nonprofits who oversee collections of authoritative state and local information on protected areas. Currently, about 30 states have defined steward organizations of varying capacities. See for a current list of steward organizations and contacts or click on any state of interest (once there, click on the “Table” button).


NGO Partners

Non-governmental organizations (NGO) are an integral part of the PAD-US system. Some provide coordination, education or outreach services. Others support standard or data development to ‘catch up’ and complete the PAD-US inventory (see the fact sheet for more information). Many review conservation or recreation access measures to increase database utility. Current NGO partners include:


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