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February 8, 2022

The USGS has recommended 18 proposals in 12 states for lidar partnership awards. These projects are expected to add nearly 135,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products to the 3DEP data holdings.

“We deeply appreciate the continued interest from our many partners in the BAA who are working toward the common goal of national high-resolution elevation data” said Kevin Gallagher, USGS Associate Director for Core Science Systems. “We are excited by the diversity of landscapes and user applications this year’s BAA will support. Highlights include data for the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona to support land-based planning and development projects; data collection over fire-impacted areas of northern California and the Sierra Nevada including collection of high quality QL1 data over the entire Lake Tahoe Basin of California and Nevada; and collection over twelve counties in Wisconsin to support a variety of applications including a carbon sequestration project on managed forest lands.”

Further highlights from these projects include completing high-resolution elevation data coverage for the states of New York and Wisconsin; continued support of state lidar acquisition plans in Minnesota, Montana, and Washington State; and collection of more than 46,000 square miles of data in northern California and on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

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 USGS and the 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 2022 awards are the result of a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for 3DEP, issued on August 26, 2021 ( reference # DOIGFBO210044 and Funding Opportunity # G22AS00013). 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 per year with the potential to generate \$13 billion per year in new benefits through applications that span the economy.

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

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