California Protected Areas Data Portal



For more detailed information on CPAD, visit the CPAD Data section of this web site »

1. How often will CPAD be updated? Show +

For 2017, GreenInfo Network has released one update to CPAD, version 2017a, in August.  – subscribe to California Protected Areas NEWS to stay informed about data updates and other news. 

2. Why doesn't CPAD include recreation facilities like community or swim centers? Show +

CPAD has been developed to support land use planning conservation and open space/recreation planning and public access. At the city level, recreation facilities that do not include significant open space (generally defined as covering half or more of a site) have not been included (e.g. stand-alone swimming pools, recreation halls, hardscape ball courts, etc., where these are not part of a park with green space) and many park boundaries show only the open space area of the holding, not associated buildings if they cover large areas. Highly accurate GIS data on urban parks is often hard to obtain and parks must be verified by using aerial imagery  determining park-related buildings is difficult in these situations and so CPAD focuses on the more identifiable green space areas. 

However, GreenInfo Network, in association with the California Dept. of Parks and Recreation, has developed a statewide data layer of eight classes of recreational facilities located in California cities  this data are points that define the exact locations playgrounds, ball courts and other facilities, most within CPAD units, some free standing (e.g., swim center buildings). You can review this data on the ParkInfo web site >>

3.  Is CPAD an inventory of all public lands? Show +

No. CPAD includes only open space lands that are protected for those purposes by fee ownership (see here for information on CCED easement data). For example, CPAD does not include city halls, water treatment plants, corporation yards and other government-owned facility lands – and it  does not include military or tribal lands unless these have special conservation protections.

4. What does "protected" mean in CPAD? Show +

"Protected" lands in CPAD are those owned by agencies whose main mission is to manage them in any open space use, including timber management and active recreation. For those who work on conservation this definition is not the same as biodiversity ranks defined by the USGS Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program or the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. GreenInfo Network applies an expansive definition of protected to make CPAD data useful to the widest range of practitioners. We recognize that parcels of US Forest Service and BLM lands are sometimes sold or traded, but we believe that it is better to include all such areas in CPAD.

5. Why are military or tribal lands not included? Show +

Military lands often have very significant natural values, but these lands are not primarily intended to be open space resources and therefore are not part of CPAD.

Tribal lands are not included in CPAD because they are the lands of Native American sovereign nations. While they often contain valuable open space areas, unless these are protected through defined laws or enforceable agreements, they are not considered available for inclusion in CPAD.

GreenInfo created versions of both data sets in 2010, with minor updating since then  Learn more and download these files » 

6.  I've found an error or a missing feature in CPAD - how can I report it? Show +

Use MapCollaborator CPAD Edition to submit comments or actual proposals for geographic line work revisions  it's easy and very efficient (you'll be able to see the status of your proposed changes on the map when you check back in later, and you’re get emails telling you when your comment has been acted upon).

You can also send us an email cpad (at) with your name, organization, the county, Holding ID and agency name of the parcel(s) in question and any comments you wish to forward to us about the Holding. If you are telling us about a new holding, please tell us who owns it, when it was purchased, parcel numbers (APNs) if available and public access status (open, restricted, closed). A low resolution .jpg or other image file, or a KML or zipped shapefile is very helpful. Unless your agency has over 1,000 acres of protected holdings, we generally prefer that you use MapCollaborator.

7. Why does the acreage for a particular site differ from the acreage shown by the owning agency? Show +

The acreages in CPAD are calculated by the GIS system, based on the polygons in the file. Sometimes these polygons are exactly the same as the owning agency's data, other times they can vary  the following are the main explanations of acreage differences:

  • CPAD reports acreage by owning agency  so if one agency is managing a unit that includes property owned by another agency, CPAD will report only the acres owned by the first agency.
  • In general, CPAD relies on county assessor GIS parcels for property boundaries (for those counties with available GIS parcels)  these boundaries may be somewhat different than those defined in an owning agency's records, leading to acreage differences. There are many complications in resolving differences between what assessors and agencies show as property boundaries - users should remember that CPAD is a general planning and assessment resource, and is not intended to be an authoritative source for legal or other high specific property boundaries.

8. What are Units, Super Units and Holdings? Show +

The CPAD database is built on individual parcels of land, called Holdings. Units are groups of holdings under a common name and access status within a county.  Super Units are mainly for cartographic uses and for supporting recreation-focused web applications  they aggregate holdings based on unit name, manager and access types.  Learn more about the structure of CPAD >>

9.  Does CPAD include recreation areas that are part of schools? Show +

CPAD only includes open space that is part of a school if that school has a joint use agreement  explicitly providing for public access. While many people use school grounds for recreation, school districts must officially approve of such uses for these lands to be in CPAD. If you know of a school with a joint use agreement, you can use the MapCollaborator CPAD Edition to show us that site.

10. What online mapping options exist for CPAD data? Show +

CPAD data is available as a webservice, through the California GeoPortal - Learn more »

Another online option is GreenInfo’s ParkInfo web site which is a full featured finder application for searching CPAD data on lands that are open or restricted access. ParkInfo can be installed in any other agency's or organization's website - contact GreenInfo Network for more inforrmation.

11. How do I properly cite the database? Show +

The current edition of CPAD should be cited as:   CPAD 2017a (Aug 2017) -

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