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Protected Areas Vision

What if you could find the location of any park or protected open space in the United States? By zooming in on a map you could see detailed boundaries and all nearby protected lands, and you could analyze these data to inform decisions about conservation, recreation or land use planning. You and millions of others would have a comprehensive, versatile and current inventory of all the nation’s protected areas.

This vision is almost a reality. We are excited to announce the 2016 release of a new report that sets out a plan to complete PAD-US (the Protected Areas Database of the U.S.). The report is available here: Completing America’s Inventory of Public Parks and Protected Areas and was prepared for the U.S. Geological Survey through support from the National Park Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The announcement for the report can be found here:

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The first PAD-US vision strategy document, prepared in 2009 and used to guide PAD-US developments since is also still available. A Map for the Future outlined a broad strategy for improving protected land inventories in the United States. The strategy included:
  • USGS coordinates and manages directions and work flows.
  • A state data steward network will maintain component data sets that can integrate into PAD-US.
  • A single national database will focus many state and national efforts into a highly flexible and technologically robust nationwide data management system.
  • States will be supported with resources to greatly improve their inventories that in turn form the foundation of the national data.
  • Federal agencies will improve their coordination and data gathering, gaining better overall information for less cost.
  • The usefulness of protected area inventories to the public, government and business will grow, enabling much more evidenced-based global, national, regional and local conservation planning and assessment.
  • PAD-US makes accurate land use and acquisition planning easier, and provides more complete public knowledge of recreational opportunities.
  • Emerging challenges of how to address land use change and improve fiscal and economic productivity will be better met by this confluence of many unconnected data gathering efforts into a single system for planning and monitoring.

PAD-US Development show details

What’s going on now with PAD-US? We’re:

  • Working with the FGDC Federal Lands Workgroup, including all major federal landowners, to develop a federal lands geodatabase that will update PAD-US, and serve other purposes.
  • Incorporating State Data Steward Project updates while identifying new contacts
  • Partnering with the National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) Team to align data schemas and increase the efficiency of data transfer. PAD-US Stewards deliver easements to GAP who submits batches to NCED for review and UID assignment. Easements are updated in PAD-US annually following NCED publication.
  • Expanding the “Date of Establishment” field to facilitate trend and other analyses
  • Expanding attribution of the “Public Access” field and planning methods to increase coverage of recreational lands
  • Improving the PAD-US website and viewer
  • Delivering new protected areas to UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) for the World Database for Protected Areas (WDPA) and the Commission for Environmental Quality (CEC) North American Terrestrial Protected Areas Database.
  • Applying PAD-US