National Conservation Easement Database
A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture of a map depicting over 40,000,000 acres of protected lands nationwide is what many are calling priceless.
The National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) is the first national database of lands protected by conservation easements. This online resource gathers data from land trusts and public agencies throughout the nation on a voluntary basis, while respecting the privacy of landowners and other potentially sensitive issues.
There are numerous benefits to having this data mapped and easily accessible. Reliable data empowers land trusts to plan and conserve more effectively and strategically. NCED also enables land trusts to share the breadth of their work with key stakeholders, including funders and policy makers.
Perhaps most importantly, the database may help combat an alarming trend in which large swaths of farms, forests, and wildlands protected for public benefit are targeted for the siting of energy projects.
Conservationists are now working with transmission planners, using NCED data as well as other available data, to protect conserved properties from transmission lines that often threaten open landscapes.
Ginny Kreitler of National Audubon has been working with utility commissions to create new practices in transmission planning that avoid conserved and naturally sensitive areas. She views the NCED as a invaluable planning tool and says “conservation organizations have provided a compilation of habitat, public lands and easement data to utility commissions for 39 states, enabling strategic, advanced planning for proposed energy infrastructure. NCED makes it possible to provide easement data to these important decision makers in spite of a tight timeline and limited budget. Without NCED, there would not have been any feasible means of representing land trust conservation easements in this effort.”
Pennsylvania Grant-Funded Projects
DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation (BRC) has also been compiling its own data on protected lands in Pennsylvania in an effort to keep land conservancies, local governments and citizens informed on conservation and recreation projects. The bureau’s website features an interactive map that displays BRC grant-funded acquisition projects and federally-funded Land and Water Conservation Fund projects across the state. Visitors can navigate using the standard Google Maps navigation tools or find projects by searching by county, address or name within the “Map Search Tools” box below the map.
BRC provides this information to assist conservation and recreational efforts across the state. This information enables those working on the ground to make more informed decisions on future land acquisitions, identify potential green infrastructure and better plan for future development.
The bureau also uses this data internally to prioritize funding, identifying projects that build on contiguous tracts of protected lands and promote scenic areas and conservation landscape initiatives.