Land Cover Dataset


Animal Habitat Models


Land Stewardship Dataset


Regional Analysis


Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project

Stewardship Data

A key task was the development of a seamless land stewardship map for the region. Through coordination from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program (GAP) and the collaborative efforts of participating state institutions, a seamless product was completed in September 2005. These data are made available to the public by the SWReGAP consortium of institutions responsible for their development.

The two primary goals of GAP are to provide an assessment of the management status for certain elements of biodiversity (vegetation communities and animal species) throughout their U.S. range, and to provide land stewards with information on the representation of these elements on their land so they can make informed decisions about their management practices regarding biodiversity.

To accomplish this, the mapped distributions of vegetation communities are compared to a map of land stewardship. In GAP, the land stewardship map combines attributes of ownership, management, and a measure of intent to maintain biodiversity. These comparisons do not consider viability, but are a start to assessing the likelihood of future threat to abiotic element from habitat conversion—the most obvious cause of biodiversity decline (Noss et al. 1995).

We use the term "stewardship," because legal ownership of a land area does not necessarily equate to the entity charged with managing the resource. Though we record the management and ownership entities of public lands and privately owned conservation lands, we also acknowledge that these attributes are complex and change rapidly. At the same time, it is necessary to distinguish between stewardship and biodiversity management status in that a single land steward, such as a national forest, may subdivide its land into units that may be managed for different purposes that affect biodiversity.

There are three primary pieces of information involved in developing the Stewardship dataset:

  1. Geographic boundaries of public land ownership (and voluntarily provided private conservation lands, e.g., Nature Conservancy Preserves),
  2. The manager/owner attributes of each mapped land unit, and
  3. The biodiversity management status category of each mapped unit.

The importance of this map in the GAP process is not only for the spatial documentation of the existing network of conservation lands, it is also the base map from which future designs for the conservation network will come.  Click on the below links for more information:

Objectives and Status Categories
Gap Status Categorization

If you have not downloaded the data, please register here.

Conversion of the geodatabase to a shapefile will result in the elimination of descriptive values in the attribute table.  Shapefile with full attribute tables are available to download.

Download Geodatabase (zipped file - will need WinZip 9.0)
Download Geodatabase Style
Stewardship Metadata (DRAFT)

Download Shapefile
(zipped file - will need WinZip 9.0)

Recommended citation for this land stewardship dataset:

USGS National Gap Analysis Program. 2007. Digital Land Stewardship Map for the Southwestern United States. Version 1.0.  New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, New Mexico State University.

Stewardship Report:

Ernst, A.E., S. Schrader, V. Lopez, J. Prior-Magee, K.G. Boykin, B. Thompson, D. Schrupp, L. O’Brien, W. Kepner, K. Thomas, and J. Lowry. 2007. Land Stewardship. Chapter 4 in J.S. Prior-Magee, ed. Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Final Report. U.S. Geological Survey, Gap Analysis Program, Moscow, ID.


For questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us here.