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

Quick Start

PAD-US Word Graphic The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) is the official national GIS inventory of protected areas, as provided by managing agencies and organizations, and is produced by the USGS. PAD-US contains over 436,000 land and marine units, managed by more than 30,000 agencies and nonprofit organizations.  This full inventory of land and water includes fee ownerships, overlapping designations, proclamation boundaries, conservation easements, and Marine Protected Areas. PAD-US is made up of many agencies’ datasets and updated periodically. PAD-US is mostly complete for Federal areas and most State lands. Efforts are ongoing to improve completeness for all local and regional parks and open space areas, and for conservation easements (which come from the National Conservation Easement Database), but individual states can vary from extremely complete to not very complete at all.

When using PAD-US, remember that . . .

  • Individual source agencies are likely to have the most up to date and official data for their agency. More information is available on source agencies at Data Stewards and on the Federal Land Workgroup hub site which includes documentation on using PAD-US in base maps.  
  • Overlaps and slivers still exist among and between some agencies’ ownership boundaries, but the PAD-US Fee layer represents significant improvement from previous versions. 
  • The ‘Designations’ and ‘Proclamation’ feature classes in PAD-US are not ownership layers – The ‘Designation’ feature class contains Wilderness Areas, National Monuments, and other policy boundaries that may not be aligned to ownership boundaries and may be designed to overlap both each other and the ‘Fee’ and ‘Easement’ feature classes. The ‘Proclamation’ feature class shows administrative boundaries for National Forests and Parks, Wildlife Refuges and other lands, not ownership. Learn more about ‘Designation’ and ‘Proclamation’ boundaries here
  • There are many States that still don’t have complete data on urban and regional parks and open space – learn more about our road ahead on data and how you can help fill in missing data here.
  • Some lands are closed to any public use – review the ‘Access’ attribute in PAD-US to filter data being used to show publicly-accessible lands. For the most accurate and up-to-date public access information, it is always best to contact the source agency.

Learn more about PAD-US before using the data


Tell us about your uses and how we can improve PAD-US

You can contact any members of the PAD-US team for your specific needs and questions at pad-us@usgs.gov


Roger Johnson, PAD-US Data Manager / FGDC Federal Lands Workgroup Chair 

Phone: 720-234-2845

Email: rjohnson@usgs.gov


Mason Croft, PAD-US Technical Specialist

Phone: 208-301-8288

Email: mcroft@usgs.gov 


Mackenzie Case, GIS & Policy Analyst, Boise State University (Cooperator), State Lands Workgroup Chair

Phone: 208-520-6923

Email: mackenziecase@boisestate.edu