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Protected Natural Areas

The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) is an inventory of the nation's protected open spaces, describing public, private, and tribal lands that are designated for some level of biodiversity or natural resource conservation.

Created by the U.S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program (GAP), the PAD-US database provides information concerning the conservation status, ownership, location and size, and public accessibility of protected areas. More than 715 million acres in thousands of holdings under various ownerships and land management designations are described. These data are useful for understanding the distribution and use of areas that have been prioritized for conservation or outdoor recreation. As such, they are also useful for planning additional conservation strategies, designing compatible recreational access, and a wide range of other landscape-level planning activities.

The Public Access to Protected Areas map shown here displays the level of public access permitted. "Open" indicates no special requirements for public access, "Restricted" indicates access under special conditions, typically permitting by the owner, and "Closed" indicates no access. Closed lands may include special ecological study areas, military bases, land bank property, etc. The Natural Areas Managed for Protection map defines a level of management with the intent to conserve biodiversity, ecosystem services, and/or cultural values, where level 1 is the most restrictive status (e.g., wilderness areas).

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Last modified: 
10/06/2015 - 20:57