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Protected Lands

Transect Vision's Multi-layer Mapping Software Shows Protected Land and Other Environmental Compliance

The Importance of Protected Land Mapping for Site Selection

Protected lands are the federal, territorial, American Indian, state, regional, local, non-governmental, and private conservation lands set aside for the preservation of biological diversity or for recreational purposes. These lands are legally protected, and development within these lands typically triggers additional environmental review or permitting. As such, it is very important to know about the location of protected lands within and in the vicinity of a proposed project, as development within protected lands can drastically affect a project’s timeline, budget, and footprint.

What Laws and Regulations Govern Protected Lands?

Protected areas and land in the United States are governed under the following laws and authorities: 

  • National Environmental Policy Act: Compels federal agencies to ensure that public and private projects that intersect federal lands address and mitigate for significant environmental impacts

  • Antiquities Act: Passed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, this law creates and protects national monuments for preservation of significant natural and cultural resources.

  • State antiquities codes: A state law that requires consideration of historic and cultural resources for developments on state, county, or city land.  Not all states have an antiquities code.

  • Conservation easements: A legal instrument that sets aside land for conservation and removes the ability to develop parts or all of a site.
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

How to Find Protected Lands Near Me

There are a variety of ways to identify protected areas in the United States including the Protected Area Database website here. .  

However, one of the easiest ways to identify wetlands is to use an environmental due diligence software like Transect.

Transect's Protected Areas Map

Transect’s environmental due diligence software evaluates your proposed project and clearly identifies protected lands intersected and within the vicinity of your site. 

But environmental due diligence goes beyond identifying protected land on your development site. Transect Vision also provides you with a multi-layer map of species of concern, wetlands, regulation locations, and infrastructure to consider

Protected Area Map by Transect
Transect’s environmental due diligence software
makes it easy to identify wetlands on your project site.
Plus, See 1,000+ Site-specific permits and pathways.

What is the Protected Areas Database (PAD-US)?

Transect uses the USGS Protected Areas Dataset (PAD) as our baseline dataset for protected lands. PAD is America’s official inventory of terrestrial and marine protected areas.  PAD includes lands with federal, state, regional, local, joint, and governmental organizational interests. In Transect, PAD data informs customers of two important things:

  1. Land ownership information, and

  2. Regulations or permits related to land ownership that affect the project's footprint, timeline, or budget.

There are several different categories of land ownership, and each one has a different type of regulatory requirement:

  • Fee: Land owned outright by public agencies, nonprofits, or private entities.

  • Easement: Non-sensitive conservation and open space easements provided by the National Conservation Easement Database (NCED).

  • Designation: Not an ownership boundary. Rather, these are policy-designated areas that may overlap fee owned land, easements, or other designations.

  • Marine Area: Protected waters, including federal, state, and local areas in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) MPA inventory, as well as Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) managed areas.

  • Approved, Proclamation or Extent Boundary: Not an ownership boundary. These are administrative boundaries used for management or reference purposes. These are areas where a land agency may want to secure more land or make overall plans. These boundaries frequently include significant private land, but there is no agency jurisdiction over them.

  • Combined: Includes one or more of the above categories.

DID YOU KNOW? Transect Reports will map the protected lands intersected by your project and populate a list of known regulations, required permits, and approximate permit timelines for your site, taking the guesswork out of your project planning.

Looking for more?

Learn about how federal protected lands trigger NEPA here >>


Don't let your project get derailed...

Non-compliance with federal and state environmental laws can have serious consequences to your project. The potential risks to your project include project termination, delays, fines, civil and/or criminal penalties, notice of violation on the property title, or mitigation.

Use our Free Environmental Due Diligence Checklist to make sure your project runs on-time and on budget by knowing exactly what kind of environmental issues might affect your budget, footprint, or schedule.

Download Transect's Environmental Due Diligence Checklist Here

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