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Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) 4

April 24, 2024

The USGS Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) is the nation's inventory of protected areas, including public land and voluntarily provided private protected areas, identified as an A-16 National Geospatial Data Asset in the Cadastre Theme ( ). The PAD-US is an ongoing project with several published versions of a spatial database including areas dedicated to the preservation of biological diversity, and other natural (including extraction), recreational, or cultural uses, managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means.

The database was originally designed to support biodiversity assessments; however, its scope expanded in recent years to include all open space public and nonprofit lands and waters. Most are public lands owned in fee (the owner of the property has full and irrevocable ownership of the land); however, permanent and long-term easements, leases, agreements, Congressional (e.g. 'Wilderness Area'), Executive (e.g. 'National Monument'), and administrative designations (e.g. 'Area of Critical Environmental Concern') documented in agency management plans are also included. The PAD-US strives to be a complete inventory of U.S. public land and other protected areas, compiling “best available” data provided by managing agencies and organizations. 

The PAD-US geodatabase maps and describes areas using thirty-six attributes and five separate feature classes representing the U.S. protected areas network: Fee (ownership parcels), Designation (policy-designated areas), Easement, Marine (protected areas), Proclamation, and Other Planning Boundaries. An additional Combined feature class includes the full PAD-US inventory to support data management, queries, web mapping services, and analyses. The Feature Class (FeatClass) field in the Combined layer allows users to extract data types as needed. A Federal Data Reference file geodatabase lookup table facilitates the extraction of authoritative federal data provided or recommended by managing agencies from the Combined PAD-US inventory.

PAD-US integrates spatial data to ensure public lands and other protected areas from all jurisdictions are represented. PAD-US version 4 includes a variety of updates to the previous version of the dataset achieving goals to: 1) Regularly update and improve spatial data representing the federal estate for PAD-US applications; 2) Update state and local lands data as state data-steward and PAD-US Team resources allow; and 3) Automate data translation efforts to increase PAD-US update efficiency. PAD-US 4 includes new and updated data from Federal State and NGO data providers. All other data were transferred from previous versions of PAD-US.

For more information regarding the PAD-US dataset please visit,…. For more information about data aggregation please review the PAD-US Data Manual available at .

A version history of PAD-US updates is summarized below (See for more information):

Comparing protected area trends between PAD-US versions is not recommended without consultation with USGS as many changes reflect improvements to agency and organization GIS systems, or conservation and recreation measure classification, rather than actual changes in protected area acquisition on the ground.

Publication Year 2024
Title Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) 4
DOI 10.5066/P96WBCHS
Authors United States Geological Survey
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Science Analytics and Synthesis Program