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



The USGS Protected Areas Database of the U.S. (PAD-US) is the official GIS-based national inventory of protected area boundaries within the U.S. It includes public lands and parks, Wilderness Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, reserves, conservation easements, Marine Protected Areas, and more.

The vision for PAD-US is that it be a single, regularly updated geospatial database that allows users to find the boundaries and essential attribute information for every public park and other protected area in the United States.

PAD-US is published by USGS in collaboration with Boise State University and through coordination with many Federal, State, and non-governmental organization data stewards.

PAD-US serves as a data coordination, gathering, and integration framework that synthesizes Federal agency data. It also encourages the development of comprehensive, standardized inventories by State data stewards. PAD-US also has collaborative relationships with other governmental and nonprofit gatherers of related data.

PAD-US is unique because it is:

  • Comprehensive — It is based on the goal of inventorying all public land and other protected areas, covering everything from small neighborhood parks to huge Wilderness Areas, land trust preserves, easements, and Marine Protected Areas.
  • Publicly available — PAD-US is published by the Federal government; it is open and free to use for all public and commercial applications and research purposes.
  • Validated — The PAD-US Data Manual has developed over time through rigorous peer and other review and testing by data stewards across jurisdictions.
  • Authoritative — PAD-US is the official inventory of America’s protected areas – a National Geospatial Data Asset, aggregated from authoritative data sources.
  • Adaptable — PAD-US is designed to support a wide range of uses, not just a specific type of use.
  • Expected — Having a single, federally led source of information on public parks and open space lands makes it intuitive to look for these national data.
  • Collaboratively developed — PAD-US uses a process based on partnerships with Federal agencies and affiliations with key groups in each State plus national nonprofits and other organizations.

All of this makes PAD-US an outstanding data resource for many different users to apply to research, land management, policy analysis and development, service targeting, and more.

Status of Data Completeness

Updates to PAD-US include the most up-to-date aggregation of Federal lands and waters, National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) easement data, and State updates from those states with capacity to provide new data. 

Current measures of the estimated completeness of all data in PAD-US can be found on the Data Stewards page – this also includes individual estimates for Federal, State, local and easement lands.

PAD-US inventory now includes most federal and state lands; however, Tribal lands are not included, and many data gaps occur below the state level.  Fortunately, several initiatives are underway to substantially increase completeness.

Data on many urban parks in the U.S. from the Trust for Public Land’s ParkServe project are also available in PAD-US to improve completeness for local and regional agency lands in states that lack those now.

A detailed summary of the state of PAD-US data completeness is shown below. Watch for updates to this document on the Federal Lands Workgroup page.