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

Metadata Updated: December 4, 2018

The USGS Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) is the nation's inventory of protected areas, including public open space and voluntarily provided, private protected areas, identified as an A-16 National Geospatial Data Asset in the Cadastral Theme ( PAD-US is an ongoing project with several published versions of a spatial database of areas dedicated to the preservation of biological diversity, and other natural, recreational or cultural uses, managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means. The geodatabase maps and describes public open space and other protected areas. Most areas are public lands owned in fee; however, long-term easements, leases, and agreements or administrative designations documented in agency management plans may be included. The PAD-US database strives to be a complete “best available” inventory of protected areas (lands and waters) including data provided by managing agencies and organizations. The dataset is built in collaboration with several partners and data providers ( See Supplemental Information Section of this metadata record for more information on partnerships and links to major partner organizations. As this dataset is a compilation of many data sets; data completeness, accuracy, and scale may vary. Federal and state data are generally complete, while local government and private protected area coverage is about 50% complete, and depends on data management capacity in the state. For completeness estimates by state: As the federal and state data are reasonably complete; focus is shifting to completing the inventory of local gov and voluntarily provided, private protected areas. The PAD-US geodatabase contains over twenty-five attributes and four feature classes to support data management, queries, web mapping services and analyses: Marine Protected Areas (MPA), Fee, Easements and Combined. The data contained in the MPA Feature class are provided directly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Protected Areas Center (MPA, ) tracking the National Marine Protected Areas System. The Easements feature class contains data provided directly from the National Conservation Easement Database (NCED, ) The MPA and Easement feature classes contain some attributes unique to the sole source databases tracking them (e.g. Easement Holder Name from NCED, Protection Level from NOAA MPA Inventory). The "Combined" feature class integrates all fee, easement and MPA features as the best available national inventory of protected areas in the standard PAD-US framework. In addition to geographic boundaries, PAD-US describes the protection mechanism category (e.g. fee, easement, designation, other), owner and managing agency, designation type, unit name, area, public access and state name in a suite of standardized fields. An informative set of references (i.e. Aggregator Source, GIS Source, GIS Source Date) and "local" or source data fields provide a transparent link between standardized PAD-US fields and information from authoritative data sources. The areas in PAD-US are also assigned conservation measures that assess management intent to permanently protect biological diversity: the nationally relevant "GAP Status Code" and global "IUCN Category" standard. A wealth of attributes facilitates a wide variety of data analyses and creates a context for data to be used at local, regional, state, national and international scales. More information about specific updates and changes to this PAD-US version can be found in the Data Quality Information section of this metadata record as well as on the PAD-US website, Due to the completeness and complexity of these data, it is highly recommended to review the Supplemental Information Section of the metadata record as well as the Data Use Constraints, to better understand data partnerships as well as see tips and ideas of appropriate uses of the data and how to parse out the data that you are looking for. For more information regarding the PAD-US dataset please visit, To find more data resources as well as view example analysis performed using PAD-US data visit, The PAD-US dataset and data standard are compiled and maintained by the USGS Gap Analysis Program, . For more information about data standards and how the data are aggregated please review the “Standards and Methods Manual for PAD-US,” .

Access & Use Information

License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

Downloads & Resources


Metadata Date March 11, 2016
Metadata Created Date December 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date December 4, 2018
Reference Date(s) May 5, 2016 (publication)
Frequency Of Update annually
Frequency Of Update annually

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI CKAN Harvest Source

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Date March 11, 2016
Metadata Created Date December 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date December 4, 2018
Reference Date(s) May 5, 2016 (publication)
Responsible Party USGS Gap Analysis Program - Boise State University Cooperator (Point of Contact)
Contact Email
Access Constraints Use Constraints: It is strongly recommended that these data are directly acquired from the U.S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program website and server ( ), and not indirectly through other sources which may have changed the data in some way. It is also strongly recommended that careful attention be paid to the contents of the metadata file associated with these data ( ). The U.S. Geological Survey and all contributing data partners and aggregators shall not be held liable for improper or incorrect use of the data described and/or contained herein. All information is created with a specific end use or uses in mind. This is especially true for GIS data, which is expensive to produce and must be directed to meet the immediate program needs. However, these data were created with the expectation that they would be used for other applications; therefore, we list below both appropriate and inappropriate uses. This list is in no way exhaustive but should serve as a guide to assess whether a proposed use can or cannot be supported by these data. For many uses, it is unlikely that PAD-US will provide the only data needed, and for uses with a regulatory outcome, field surveys should verify the result. In the end, it will be the responsibility of each data user to determine if these data can answer the question being asked, and if they are the best tool to answer that question. Contact the PAD-US Coordinator for guidance. While it is impossible to predict all the uses of these data we have listed several possible appropriate and inappropriate uses from GAP's perspective. Use constraints: Appropriate uses of the data: primarily as a coarse map for a large area such as the nation, a region or state (completeness in counties varies) or to provide context for finer-level maps. A general list of possible applications includes: -National, regional or statewide biodiversity planning, research, management, or policy making -National, Regional or state habitat conservation planning, research, management, or policy making -Outdoor recreation planning, research, management or policy making -Public health planning, research, management or policy making -County comprehensive planning -Large-area resource management planning -Coarse-filter evaluation of potential impacts or benefits of major projects or plan initiatives on biodiversity, such as utility or transportation corridors, wilderness proposals, habitat connectivity proposals, climate change adaption proposals, regional open space and recreation proposals, etc. -Determining relative amounts of management responsibility for specific biological resources among land stewards to facilitate cooperative management and planning. -Basic research on regional distributions of plants and animals and to help target both specific species and geographic areas for needed research. -Environmental impact assessment for large projects or military activities. -Estimation of potential economic impacts from loss of biological resource-based activities. -Education at all levels and for both students and citizens. Inappropriate Uses: It is far easier to identify appropriate uses than inappropriate ones, however, there is a "fuzzy line" that is eventually crossed when the differences in resolution of the data, size of geographic area being analyzed, and precision of the answer required for the question are no longer compatible. Examples include: -Using the data to map small areas (less than thousands of hectares), typically requiring mapping resolution at 1:24,000 scale and using aerial photographs or ground surveys in areas where data are incomplete. -Combining these data with other data finer than 1:100,000 scale to produce new hybrid maps or answer queries. -Generating specific areal measurements from the data finer than the nearest thousand hectares -Establishing exact boundaries for regulation or acquisition. -Establishing definite occurrence or non-occurrence of any feature for an exact geographic area -Determining abundance, health, or condition of any feature. -Establishing a measure of accuracy of any other data by comparison with GAP data. -Altering the data in any way and redistributing them as a GAP data product. -Using the data without acquiring and reviewing the metadata., Access Constraints: These data are in the public domain. The PAD-US version 1.4 data was developed using an ESRI ArcGIS version 10 File Geodatabase format. This is done to be able to utilize the expanded data capabilities of the File Geodatabase for overall size, attribute name length, attribute aliases, and coded domain values. To follow open data standards and to make the data available for the broadest audience of data users the data will also be made available for download in shapefile (.shp) and ArcGIS version 9.x file geodatabase formats. Other data formats and data scales not immediately available for download on the PAD-US download website may be obtained by contacting the PAD-US development team.
Bbox East Long 180.00
Bbox North Lat 71.311956
Bbox South Lat -15.386142
Bbox West Long -180.00
Coupled Resource
Frequency Of Update annually
Harvest Object Id 41fa00f7-f75b-441c-9d4c-aa92b09dda9d
Harvest Source Id 34ce571b-cb98-4e0b-979f-30f9ecc452c5
Harvest Source Title DOI CKAN Harvest Source
Licence Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. Although these data and associated metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the display or utility of the data on any other system or for general or scientific purposes, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. This database, identified as PAD-US version 1.4, has been approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Although this database has been subjected to rigorous review and is substantially complete, the USGS reserves the right to revise the data pursuant to further analysis and review. Furthermore, the database is released on condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from its authorized or unauthorized use.
Metadata Language
Metadata Type geospatial
Progress completed
Spatial Data Service Type
Spatial Reference System
Spatial Harvester true
Temporal Extent Begin 2005-01-01
Temporal Extent End 2016-01-01

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