California Protected Areas Data Portal


CPAD Data History

CPAD has evolved from regional data sets created by GreenInfo Network in the late 1990s and early 2000s to a full, statewide data layer beginning in 2007. Since then it has gradually improved in its coverage and accuracy. Beginning in late 2012, a major two year project was begun by GreenInfo Network to significantly improve CPAD, with support from the California Strategic Growth Council and the USGS Gap Analysis Program (learn more about this project »).


CPAD Version 2017a (Aug 2017) - Our work for the 2017a release was predominantly focused on our efforts to support work in the Bay Area (BPAD and the Bay Area Open Space Council) and San Diego (for the Get Outside San Diego campaign).  


  • Addition of 10,415 acres
  • Addition of 5 agencies
  • Significant (over 100) revisions and additions made in: San Diego, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Bernardino, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties
  • The Wildlands Conservancy preserves were updated and include over 7,000 new acres in 5 units. Most notable is Spyrock Reserve in Mendocino County.
  • Agency reviews for: East Bay Regional Park District, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • San Diego parks were improved and attributes were the big focus. We corrected park names, added owning and managing agencies, and made big strides in improving the public access field.

DOWNLOAD CPAD 2017a »  (100mb zip file, includes holdings, units and super units shape files and CPAD Manual)



Version 2016b – Released Dec 2016. This is a standard update to CPAD including: Updates to lands held by the top 50 agencies in CPAD, review of database structure and content to facilitate better querying, expansion of abbreviations in the Park Name field (names are still abbreviated in the Label Name field), improved stability and reliability of the Unit ID structure by condensing dozens of duplicate unit records, starting the process of eliminating the “Unknown Access” category, addition of Date Established data for many Holdings, data reviews for San Joaquin and Mariposa Counties, and the Santa Ana River Parkway corridor, significant revisions to correct overlapping geometries, and improvements to parcel alignment in San Mateo County and Orange County. New parks were added in cities across California, including - Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Cupertino, Fremont, Temecula, Clayton, Davis, Elk Grove, Kingsburg, Redlands, Arcata, Santa Rosa, Chino, Chino Hills, Corona, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Loma Linda, Yorba Linda, and more.

Version 2016a  Released June 2016. This was a standard update to CPAD including: Major improvements to the Designation Type (previously called Primary Designation Type) and GAP Status fields; updates to lands held by the top 50 agencies – major data reviews were conducted for: California Department of Parks & Recreation, East Bay Regional Parks District, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, California Tahoe Conservancy; updates to other agency lands include: Humboldt County, San Diego County, Sonoma Land Trust, Peninsula Open Space District, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, San Mateo County Department of Parks, Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation, The Nature Conservancy. Many contributions were submitted by the public, via our MapCollaborator™ tool. Extensive technical edits were also completed for internal consistency and accuracy.

Version 2015b – Released December 2015. This was a major update to CPAD including: Substantial improvements in Los Angeles County - over 3,000 holdings were revised or added, with improvements made to the spatial alignment and attributes of lands; nearly 700 new units covering over 15,000 acres added in Los Angeles County; updates to over 130 agency units in Los Angeles County including SMMC/MRCA, County lands, LAUSD lands, cities of: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Clarita, Azusa, Palmdale, Glendale; inclusion of many parks covered by joint use school agreements; core attribute improvements. In San Diego County, there was the addition of approximately 100 parks in the City of San Diego, and improvements/corrections to an additional 150+ existing city holdings; improvements to large-scale parks and open space in San Diego County, including Otay Ranch Preserve and San Dieguito River Park. There were minor fixes to Bureau of Land Management, CalFire, and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge holdings; we incorporated over 50 user-submitted edits across the state through our MapCollaborator™ application. Standardization applied for naming unknown or unnamed protected lands in all CPAD data. 

Version 2015a – Released April 2015. This was a minor update to CPAD including: General improvement of park boundary accuracy, especially for parks over 1,000 acres, and in the San Francisco Bay Area; major improvement to accuracy of Access levels for parks over 1,000 acres, and for other parks in the Bay Area; addition of 800 park-specific URLs, mainly for parks over 1,000 acres; major updates to and improvement of California Dept. of Parks and Recreation attributes and geometry; agency data updates from East Bay Regional Parks District, Peninsula Open Space Trust, SCCOSA (data received Fall 2014) in the Bay Area; open space additions in Marin, Sonoma County (minor updates); City/County park updates in San Mateo County, City of San Jose, Riverside County, and Los Angeles County (minor updates); incorporated edits submitted by users through MapCollaborator (minor updates).

Version 2014a – Released March 2014  This was a minor update to CPAD including: addition of 27,347 acres of protected land, including most recent CDFW, City of San Jose, The Conservation Fund, Jurupa Community Services District, and the City of Healdsburg; updates to 200 older holdings that were inaccurate; numerous edits and additions from submissions to the CPAD MapCollaborator; Major updates to Yuba County and other updates in Santa Clara and Kern counties. (Note Esri ArcGIS 10.3 users may experience a bug in using CPAD with 10.3, having to do with incorrect field ID display – this has been adjusted in CPAD 2015a, since Esri is not fixing its bug.

CPAD Version 2013b – Released September 2013  This was a significant update to CPAD supported by a grant from the California Strategic Growth Council through the USGS Gap Analysis ProgramMajor updates to San Diego County, the addition of GAP codes, updated data from major agencies, and continued improvements to legacy data. New naming convention adopted, to more efficiently identify releases for users.

Version 1.9 – Completed March 15, 2013; Released May 3, 2013  This version of CPAD included almost 400 more urban parks, hundreds of corrections and changes submitted via MapCollaborator – CPAD Edition, extensive other corrections and updates from major agencies. This release also included systematic improvements such as improved spatial alignment to assessor parcels and improved attributes for hundreds of parcels that had previously been missing information. This update is the first of at least three that are supported by a grant from the California Strategic Growth Council to GreenInfo Network for CPAD work

Version 1.8 – Released July 1, 2012  Minor update, including revisions to data in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as corrections to gaps or errors in other parts of the state. No major updating of federal or state agencies was conducted for this release. CPAD 1.8 includes seven more agencies/organizations than CPAD 1.7, including a net increase of over 70,000 acres of protected areas. It has roughly 1,000 more Holdings than version 1.7. In version 1.8, a new field defining "data acquired" was added, with data for many holdings in the San Francisco Bay Area (due to special funding).

Version 1.7 Released September 11, 2011  This version of CPAD continues to refine the database with better parcel alignment, removal of inferior legacy data, and addition of newly protected areas. CPAD 1.7 includes 24 more agencies/organizations than CPAD 1.6, including a net increase of over 65,000 acres of protected areas. It has roughly 550 more Holdings and 180 more Units than version 1.6.

Version 1.6 – Released January 31, 2011  CPAD 1.6 included significant city park updates in the Southern California region. Orange County in particular has been completely updated and aligned to parcel data, with many new sites added to CPAD. This version more accurately captures the transition of lands from the State Land Commission or lands trust to the BLM in the desert region. National Park boundaries have been revised based upon more accurate alignment. Home owner associations’ parks have now begun to be incorporated into CPAD. Data is better aligned to parcels throughout the state. In general, the top 20 agencies/organizations have been surveyed for new data and revisions made accordingly in CPAD.   

Version 1.5 Released June 9, 2010  CPAD 1.5 had significant updates made to federal lands in the Sierra Nevada region, plus updates to all federal and state agencies generally. Most land trust data was updated, especially in the Bay Area, the Sierra Nevada region and the San Joaquin Valley. Super Units, used for cartography were revised so that they aggregate just federal and state holdings (national forests, etc.) across county boundaries – other ownerships retain their Unit-based configuration.  Managing agencies were more fully identified (especially Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game), but not all managing agencies are yet identified. CPAD 1.6 also removed a dozen State Lands holdings that were Calif. State Univ. campuses or prisons.

Version 1.4 Released February 3, 2010  CPAD 1.4 features updated city data in most areas of the state, and includes city park data for many smaller incorporated areas that were not included in previous releases. Parks and open spaces within incorporated areas of San Diego County have been updated extensively. The San Joaquin Valley data is greatly improved from the smallest city parks to larger state and federal preserves. In the nine county Bay Area, CPAD 1.6 is aligned to parcels and more inclusive. Special attention was paid to updating Calif. DFG and USFWS lands across the state. Super Units is a new feature class in CPAD 1.6. They differ from Units in that Super units are not divided by owning/managing agency or by county. Super units are intended to be used for cartographic purposes. 

Version 1.3Released August 27, 2009  The CPAD 1.3 has a more extensive management attributes, especially in regards to CDFG and CDPR managed lands that are owned by other agencies such as the State Lands Commission, BLM and Bureau of Reclamation. In addition management around reservoir areas is now more accurate. Version 1.3 continues to capture more urban park coverage. GreenInfo Network relied heavily on the CPAD user community to report errors in CPAD through Federal and state agency data has been aligned and updated throughout the state. CPAD 1.3 improved parcel alignment and more extensive and accurate attributes. This work was supported by grants from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Endowment, and the Resources Legacy Fund Preserving Wild California program.  See the Appendix for more details about this update.

Version 1.2 Released March 10, 2009  The CPAD 1.2 dataset was a major improvement over past CPAD data, with extensive new urban park coverage, full holding updates for major agencies, many new agencies and organizations, numerous geographic focus areas updated, improved parcel alignment, and more extensive attributes. This work was supported by grants from the Calif. Dept. of Parks and Recreation, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the Resources Legacy Fund Preserving Wild California program.

Version 1.1 – Released June 3, 2008  This was a minor update. Contains several corrections to Calif. Department of Fish & Game lands, including removal of some easement areas marked as fee, correction of Lake Sonoma as Army Corps not DFG, change of owner for lands transferred earlier to the department by the Land Trust of Napa County near Lake Berryessa, and additions of small areas of DFG land missed in Version 1.0 inventory. Contains minor additions for land trust fee lands in the Sierra foothills, additions for various agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Northern Sierra.  Major holding changes for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have been updated to most recent available releases for those agencies. Additional Calif. State Lands Commission lands (mostly School Lands) have been added where over 60 acres. Attributes of some city parks have been improved. 

Version 1.0 Released May 8, 2008  Original CPAD statewide release.


THE HISTORY OF CPAD - 1980s to Present

CPAD was developed out of efforts to create regional open space databases in parts of California.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, tabular inventories by Greenbelt Alliance in the 1980s led to GIS-based inventories in the mid-1990s by the then-newly formed GreenInfo Network.  This data was created based primarily on USGS topographic maps, comparing paper maps of owning agencies and digitizing the resulting boundaries. Originally, the protected lands data included only lands 10 acres or greater – in 2005, funding was secured to begin including urban parks. Currently, the Bay Area Open Space Council provides ongoing support for maintaining protected lands data for the nine counties that touch San Francisco Bay.

In the early 2000s, the State of California developed a statewide coverage of protected lands known as the Public and Conservation Trust Lands (PCTL) database.  This data included mainly state and federal lands owned in fee (with some other lands included), and was developed through a consortium of these agencies. The most recent update to this dataset was in 2005.   PCTL is now a legacy data set, replaced by CPAD, though still available for download at the CASIL web site.

In 2005, GreenInfo Network received funding from the Annenberg Foundation (through the new Southern California Open Space Council) to begin work on a Southern California version of the Bay Area database, and shortly thereafter funding was also secured from the California Coastal Commission for inventories of the Central Coast and Southern Central Valley.  These data inventories were built up from newly available GIS-based assessor’s parcels to ensure accuracy and consistency.  The Bay Area database was also revised to match available assessor parcels during this time period.  First versions of this data were completed in late 2006.

In late 2006, GreenInfo Network also completed work on its first version ParkInfo web portal to support public access to this data –  ParkInfo provides users the chance to find parks near them (in particular cities or by zip code) and then get maps, lists, and driving instructions. Users can also follow web links to source agency sites for more details (in mid-2012, the ParkInfo web map was greatly upgraded). 

In mid-2007, funding was secured from the California Department of Parks and Recreation to complete the state and to improve existing data accuracy and currency.  During this version 1.1 revision, the entire file structure of the databases was overhauled, migrating the files to an ESRI file geodatabase format, integrating each regional datset into a single geodatabase file, and greatly increasing the attribute robustness of the database.

In 2008 through mid-2009, further extensive updating was conducted (see Release History above for details), greatly improving the coverage, accurac,y and completeness of the database.

Two editions of CPAD were released in 2010.  These were all incremental improvements that expanded alignment to parcels, improved the accuracy of data, and included newly acquired holdings.  Also in 2010, GreenInfo’s MapCollaborator™ web application was launched as an online tool to let CPAD users more easily point out where corrections to CPAD are needed. 

In 2011, two updates were completed of CPAD data, both of which were relatively minor, due to funding limits.  In 2012, one update was completed in July.

In late 2012, GreenInfo Network began a major project to improve CPAD, supported by a grant from the California Strategic Growth Council in collaboration with the USGS Gap Analysis Program.  Learn more about this project » This project enabled GreenInfo to make major improvements in the quality of CPAD data and in the processes used to develop and maintain CPAD. It also supported an active outreach program to educate users and provide more extensive user support. This funding ended in April 2014.

From April 2014 to early 2015, there was no direct support of CPAD from any agency/organization. However, two projects aided in various improvements to CPAD: 1) the development of, a mobile-friendly park finder application supported by the Resources Legacy Fund and developed by Stamen Design with GreenInfo Network providing edited and expanded CPAD data (including site URLs for the 800 largest parks).

In early 2015, the California Natural Resources Agency contracted with GreenInfo Network for two years of CPAD support, through the Calif. Dept. of Water Resources. This work will fund twice-yearly updates of CPAD (and CCED, the easement data), and extensive outreach and engagement about CPAD and its use.

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