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A new version of the Protected Areas Database of the U.S., or PAD-US, has major federal, state and easement updates, an easier-to-use data structure, new web services, national-scale printable maps, and more.

The U.S. Geological Survey announced the release of its Protected Areas Database of the U.S. version 2.0 – a major advance toward the long-term goal of a geospatial inventory that contains every public park and other protected area in America.

Status graphic of all land managers on the updated PAD-US map
Status graphic of all land managers on the updated PAD-US map.   (Public domain.)

PAD-US is America’s official national inventory of lands held by cities, counties, special park and open-space districts, state parks and preserves as well as national parks and forests, national wildlife refuges, public lands and more. The inventory includes more than 360,000 individual named units, managed by more than 18,000 public agencies and non-governmental organizations, totaling more than 9 billion acres of land and marine areas. It features management designations for conservation and for multiple uses such as forestry, energy, grazing and recreation.

“PAD-US 2.0 brings us closer to our vision of a complete inventory of protected areas by 2020,” said Kevin T. Gallagher, USGS associate director, Core Science Systems. “This release includes approximately 95% of federal lands and waters and 60% of state, regional and local park and other preserved lands.”

Featuring built-in collaboration with federal, state, and nonprofit agencies, PAD-US meets multiple organizational needs, including wildland fire response and transportation planning, public health and conservation assessments, and base map and recreational application development. The PAD-US system offers a common framework for integration that relies on the expertise and dedication of data stewards.

Improvements in version 2.0

The new version of PAD-US features important improvements over the prior version (1.4):

  • Changes to the structure of the GIS database to make it easier to use, particularly the separation of feature classes for fee ownership from policy-designated areas (wilderness, national monuments, etc.), plus continuation of layers for easements and marine protected areas.
  • A new, separate layer for proclamation and other boundaries that outline forest, park or refuge areas approved for voluntary acquisition and military lands without internal ownership defined.
  • Improved boundary line geometry with far fewer overlaps and slivers, particularly among federal fee agency lands.
  • Greater consistency and completeness in PAD-US attributes (naming, access, and more).
  • New agency reports for data steward contacts and source data links, available soon from the USGS. Current access.
  • Updated data from most federal land management agencies (including NPS, USFS, USFWS, BOEM, NOAA and BLM), developed through the Federal Lands Working Group.
  • Major updates to more than 30 states, including 12 from the PAD-US State Data-Steward Network (California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia).
  • The integration of nonprofit databases which updated many more states (The Nature Conservancy Fee Lands and Secured Lands aggregation, The Trust for Public Land Conservation Almanac, Ducks Unlimited Conservation and Recreation Lands). More information
  • The latest easement data from the National Conservation Easement Database.
  • A ready-to-use downloadable statistics table, summarizing PAD-US 1.4 attributes (PAD-US 2.0 update coming soon) by state and for the nation.
  • The ability to print map files at any size--including poster size – with four national themes and the states coming soon.
  • Updated WMS services for pulling in different views of PAD-US data to applications and desktop GIS sessions.
  • A history of PAD-US and a vision for the future of the database. These plans propose the goal of a complete PAD-US by 2020. Currently, approximately 95% of federal lands and waters are included in PAD-US, while only about 60% of state, regional and local park and other preserve lands are in the database. Through the work of the Trust for Public Land’s Park Serve program, great improvements in urban parks data will occur in the next release of PAD-US.

Providing Foundational Data for the National Biogeographic Map

The USGS develops and maintains PAD-US through its Science Analytics and Synthesis (SAS) program.

PAD-US is a foundational data set for the USGS National Biogeographic Map and is designed to integrate and expand a wide range of biological data and analyses for use by land managers, decision-makers and others addressing biodiversity challenges.


PAD-US data is used widely to identify the most effective policies for energy and habitat conservation, manage responses to wildfires, guide people to recreational opportunities, inform public health research and much more. It is also a resource for many commercial web map publishers. Learn more about PAD-US uses from our partners

Image of the Federal Recreation Map
Image of the Federal Recreation Map.  (Public domain.)


"The PAD-US team worked collaboratively with the Federal Recreation Council to create the first seamless, comprehensive and authoritatively accurate map of the parks and public lands and waters available for outdoor recreation,” said Bob Ratcliffe, National Park Service chief of conservation and outdoor recreation, explained. “This map will not only become the foundation for our website, which visitors rely on to plan trips and make reservations, but it is also an incredible tool for staff to better manage resources. Most importantly it provides an interactive way for the public to find, learn about and enjoy their public lands."



Our Partners

The federal lands component of PAD-US has been created through innovative coordination involving 14 agencies and stakeholders in the Federal Geographic Data Committee Federal Lands Working Group which has defined standards for efficient data sharing of their lands and waters information into PAD-US.

The PAD-US data set also includes land protected through conservation easements, developed by the National Conservation Easement Database, led by the Trust for Public Land and Ducks Unlimited. Conservation easements are restrictions against development placed voluntarily on private (and some public) lands by landowners. Learn more.

Webinar Information

Join upcoming webinars to learn about the PAD-US system, including recent updates, available maps and information, applications and opportunities to participate.

Tuesday, July 30 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.  Join Zoom Meeting

Thursday, August 15 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.  Join Zoom Meeting


Contact information:

Julie Prior-Magee, PAD-US Dataset Manager

USGS Core Science Systems

Science Analytics and Synthesis

Phone: 575-557-1566 E-mail:


Lisa Johnson, PAD-US Coordinator

USGS Cooperator - Boise State University

Phone: 208-874-3102 E-mail:


Sky Bristol, Branch Chief - Biogeographic Characterization

USGS Core Science Systems

Science Analytics and Synthesis

Phone: 303-202-4181 Email:

Screen shot of PAD-US 2.0 Feature Class graphic
Screen shot of PAD-US 2.0 Feature Class graphic.   (Public domain.)

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