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March 22, 2023

The USGS has recommended 20 proposals in 13 states for lidar partnership awards. These projects are expected to add nearly 82,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products to the 3DEP data holdings.

“We greatly appreciate the strong continued interest from our BAA partners that will add to the 89 percent national coverage of 3DEP data acquisition that we reached at the end of last year,” said Kevin Gallagher, USGS Associate Director for Core Science Systems. “Highlights include high-quality data acquisition for portions of California that have experienced unprecedented rates of high-severity wildfire; the Louisiana coastline which has been significantly impacted by recent major hurricanes Ida, Delta, and Laura; and four major watersheds in Texas to support floodplain management and planning, water quality modeling, stream restoration, wildfire mitigation, and habitat mapping for endangered species. It is also exciting to announce the contribution of Inflation Reduction Act funding in support of the goal to complete nationwide coverage of 3DEP data.” 

Current and accurate 3D elevation data are needed to support important applications, including flood-risk management, precision agriculture, infrastructure projects, natural resources management, and helping communities cope with natural hazards such as floods and landslides.

Federal funds to support this opportunity were provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, USGS and USDA through the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Production and Conservation Business Center. The USGS facilitates planning and acquisition of 3D elevation data for the broader community through government contracts and partnership agreements. 

The 2023 awards are the result of a BAA for 3DEP, issued on October 14, 2022 ( reference # DOIGFBO230001 and Funding Opportunity # G23AS00052). The 3DEP BAA presents an annual opportunity for collaboration between the USGS and other Federal, State, local, and non-profit agencies to leverage the expertise and capacity of private sector mapping firms that acquire high-quality, three-dimensional mapping data of the United States. 

The goal of 3DEP is to complete acquisition of nationwide lidar (IfSAR in AK) to provide the first-ever national baseline of consistent high-resolution topographic elevation data – both bare earth and 3D point clouds. 3DEP is backed by a comprehensive study which conservatively estimates that elevation data provides new benefits of \$690 million a year with the potential to generate \$13 billion a year in new benefits through applications that span the economy.  Inflation Reduction Act funding is helping to accelerate the completion of the national 3DEP baseline dataset.   

Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is collected from aircraft by using sensors that detect the reflections of a pulsed laser beam. The reflections are recorded as millions of individual points, collectively called a “point cloud,” that represent the three-dimensional (3D) positions of objects on the surface of the Earth. Similarly, IfSAR, short for interferometric synthetic aperture radar, is used to collect data over Alaska due to the frequent cloud cover, rugged terrain, and remote locations. 

More information about 3DEP, including updates on current and future 3DEP partnership opportunities, is available at 

U.S. Map showing 3D Elevation Program Broad Agency Announcement Partnership Proposal areas.
This map of the United States and its territories shows geographic extent of planned, existing, and in-progress 3DEP data acquisition projects. FY23 projects are the result of partnership projects awarded through the FY23 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and through on-going Federal coordination via the 3DEP Working GroupExplanation Orange = FY23 BAA Partnership Opportunity Selected (subject to change) Striped Lime Green = FY23 Planned 3DEP Lidar Partnerships (subject to change)  Lime Green = FY23 3DEP Lidar Partnerships 3DEP Baseline Data Dark Green = Lidar Dark Blue = IfSAR  (Alaska only) 3DEP Baseline:
  • Quality level 2 or better lidar data (IfSAR in AK)
  • 3D Point Clouds and Bare Earth DEMS as defined in the 3DEP Lidar Base Specification v1.2 or later and the 1-Meter Digital Elevation Model Specification, TM-11B7 
*Sources: 3DEP FY23 Broad Agency Announcement, USIEI data from December 2022 

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