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Appendix C. Status of NSDI Data Themes

Web Version


Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A–16 provides direction for Federal agencies that produce, maintain, or use spatial data in the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The circular identifies 34 data themes of national significance and denotes which are framework data themes. This appendix includes descriptions of the following framework data and data themes: cadastral, digital orthoimagery, elevation, geodetic control, hydrography, soils, watershed boundaries, and wetlands.



Framework Data Theme: Cadastral

Responsible agency: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)


Description: The BLM is the lead Federal agency for cadastral data and chairs the FGDC Cadastral Subcommittee. Cadastral data describe the geographic extent of rights and interests in real property. The term “cadastral data” is synonymous with “land parcel data.” Under BLM’s leadership, the Cadastral Subcommittee develops and implements plans to coordinate cadastral data-related activities among Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments and the private sector and reports on its activities to the FGDC. In the western United States, the FGDC Cadastral Subcommittee continues to work with the wildland fire community to identify sources of parcel data, standardize available data, and build sustainable operational procedures to provide parcel data in coordination with States. In other regions of the country, such as the Midwest and the Southeast, the Subcommittee continues to work with State coordinators to identify county cadastral data contacts.



County Parcel Data Standard Compliance Status

County Parcel Data Standard graphic.




The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is a cadastral reference system used to divide public domain lands, which are lands owned by the Federal Government. The original public domain included the land ceded to the Federal Government by the thirteen original States, supplemented with acquisitions from native Indians and foreign powers. It encompasses major portions of the land area of 30 States. Standardized PLSS representation supports geographic information system (GIS) applications that facilitate data integration, which enables searches by PLSS location. The statewide standardization PLSS representation is based on legal cadastral survey records.

The Cadastral Subcommittee has developed guidance for States to use when developing, publishing, and maintaining standardized cadastral information for government-to-government data sharing. State stewardship of cadastral data has seven levels, or phases, that lead to a State aggregating and publishing authoritative local data and serving as a trusted source. The levels range from level 1, in which a State coordinator identifies and assembles a current inventory of the State’s sources of cadastral data, to level 7, in which statewide data are assembled into a single dataset that can be combined seamlessly with other State and Federal land parcel data.



PLSS Standardization Status by State


PLSS Standardization Status graphic.



Framework Data Theme: Digital Orthoimagery

Responsible agency: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)


Description: The USGS is the designated lead Federal agency for the NSDI orthoimagery data theme and executes its OMB Circular A–16 responsibilities as the theme lead through the National Digital Orthophoto Programs (NDOP). NDOP was chartered in 1993 as a consortium with the purpose of developing and maintaining national orthoimagery coverage in the public domain by establishing partnerships with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and private organizations. The consortium members include the Bureau of Land Management, the Farm Service Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Resources Conservation Service, the National States Geographic Information Council, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Forest Service, and the USGS. The primary Federal programs for NDOP are the USDA National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP), the NGA Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) 133 Cities Urban Area Initiative, and the USGS National Orthoimagery Program.


USGS National Orthoimagery Program

The USGS National Orthoimagery Program concentrates on acquiring imagery through partnerships with Federal, State, Tribal, regional, and local agencies. The USGS, along with other Federal and State agencies, contributes funds annually to support the Farm Service Agency’s National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) current maintenance cycle. In addition to direct funding support, the USGS (through the Geospatial Liaisons) coordinates partnerships with State and local agencies to further leverage the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s 133 Cities Urban Area Initiative funding pool and expand the project to support local needs. The USGS also provides quality assurance support for the 133 Cities Urban Area Initiative. The USGS makes all public domain digital orthoimagery acquired through its partnership agreements available to the general public through The National Map Seamless Server and provides for data archiving. Currently, 1-meter orthoimagery from the NAIP and higher resolution orthoimagery in support of the 133 Cities Urban Area Initiative is available on the Seamless Server. Data availability graphics can be found at and

The USGS National Orthoimagery Program supports the National Geospatial Program by making the imagery available in US Topo and through USGS Web services. The USGS National Orthoimagery Program also supports the USGS science programs.


USDA National Agriculture Orthoimagery Program

The National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) annually acquires imagery during the growing season and is the largest single civilian mapping program in U.S. history. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) and other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies use the imagery to administer farm programs and agriculture-related disaster recovery programs. The imagery is in the public domain and is widely used by Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as by private entities and businesses. A few examples of the business processes that the data have been used to support are economic development, emergency response, environmental management, growth planning, health and human services, homeland security, precision farming and other agribusiness activities, and transportation planning. FSA’s priority is to collect data on privately owned farmland as identified by common land unit boundaries, and the agency has established effective cost-share participation with other Federal and State partners for collection outside of those areas. In 2010, FSA acquired NAIP imagery for 30 States. Since the program began as a pilot in 2002, it has provided two full cycles of complete 1-meter coverage of the continental United States, giving all States in the lower 48 an imagery currency age of 2 years or less.



NAIP Orthoimagery

NAIP Orthoimagery graphic.




NGA HSIP 133 Cities Urban Area Initiative

The Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) 133 Cities Urban Area Initiative annually acquires imagery during the spring and fall leaf-off seasons; the focus of this initiative is the 133 cities that are defined in the 2002 tiger team report that was produced jointly by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). NGA collects this imagery through partnership with the USGS and uses it to support the Homeland Defense, Homeland Security, and Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery mission to protect the Nation’s infrastructure in accordance with Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD–7 and the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources. The collected imagery data also support mutually beneficial partnerships to both enhance and share data among Federal Government agencies and with State and local jurisdictions. This initiative supports partnership and coordination efforts with other Federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the USGS, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The collected imagery is largely in the public domain and is widely used by Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as by commercial, private, and nonprofit entities. The USGS provides this imagery to the civilian community through The National Map Seamless Server located at the EROS Data Center, and the NGA coordinates imagery distribution to its mission partners. The goal for this initiative is to refresh imagery for the 133 cities on a 2- to 3-year cycle, which has been largely accomplished since the initiative’s inception in 2002; imagery for nearly all the cities has been collected twice and collections for many cities are on their fourth or fifth iteration. In 2010, the initiative funded 60 imagery projects in 33 States, as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.



HSIP 133 Cities Urban Area Imagery Initiative: Fiscal Year 2010 Imagery Acquisitions

HSIP 133 Cities graphic




Framework Data Theme: Elevation

Responsible agency: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)


Description: The National Elevation Dataset (NED) contains elevation data that provide three-dimensional surface models of the Earth’s surface. The USGS makes elevation data available for land areas and, in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under coastal waters. The USGS identifies digital elevation data based upon the resolution (spacing between the points) of a grid. One arc-second-resolution (equivalent to 30-meter resolution) elevation data are complete and available for the entire United States, except Alaska. Current USGS efforts are concentrated on providing finer resolution of elevation data at 1/3 and 1/9 arc-second (equivalent to 10- and 3-meter resolutions, respectively) grid spacing. The data are developed from the best available data from Federal, State, and local agencies and private sector partners.

In fiscal year 2010, approximately $32.58 million of Federal appropriations, monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and partnership funds were used to support lidar acquisitions primarily across priority areas along the coastal regions of the contiguous United States and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IfSAR) collections across one-sixth of the State of Alaska. These projects will result in more than 125,000 square miles of new 1/9 arc-second (equivalent to 3-meter resolution) data and 250,000 square miles of revised 1/3 and 1 arc-second data (equivalent to 10- and 30-meter resolutions, respectively).


National Elevation Dataset Source Resolution

National Elevation Dataset graphic.




Framework Data Theme: Geodetic Control

Responsible agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Geodetic Survey


Description: NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey manages a network of continuously operating reference stations (CORS) that provide Global Navigation Satellite System data to define and maintain the National Spatial Reference System. As a multipurpose cooperative endeavor involving more than 200 government, academic, and private organizations, CORS data support three-dimensional positioning, meteorology, space weather, and geophysical applications. Improved coordinates for these geodetic control stations, which are the result of improved analysis of more than 10 years of data, will be made available in fiscal year 2011. The map shows the distribution of 1,542 stations, including 106 recent additions (green dots).


Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) Network, August 2010

CORS graphic




Framework Data Theme: Hydrography

Responsible agency: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)


Description: The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) includes a common data model that contains nationwide coverage of surface water features at 1:100,000 scale and 1:24,000 scale. These data provide a universal solution for hydrography across the Nation and have widespread application in pollution control, hydrology, resource management, and fisheries research. The USGS provides the central database, technical development, distribution, data integration, leadership, program management and coordination.

Maintaining these data is largely accomplished through a program of data stewardship using Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) where the user community is empowered to make necessary updates. The USGS facilitates the stewardship by providing the methods, tools, training, and guidance to allow users to assume responsibility for maintenance. A complete modernization of the maintenance toolset is underway to expand the user base able to participate in data stewardship. The USGS provides grant funding to States to help them establish stewardship operations. A number of States are now revising their hydrography data to 1:4,800- and 1:2,400-scale resolutions.


Status of National Hydrography Dataset Stewardship Program

NHD graphic.




Data Theme: Soils

Responsible agency: U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Survey Division


Description: The USDA National Resources Conservation Service Soil Survey Division provides leadership and services to produce and deliver science-based soil information (including digital maps, attribute tables, and other types of publications) to help in the understanding and management of global resources. This service is provided through the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) program. The NCSS is a nationwide partnership of Federal, State and local agencies, and private entities and institutions. This partnership works collaboratively to investigate, inventory, document, classify, interpret, disseminate, and publish information about soils of the United States and its trust territories and Commonwealths. The activities of the NCSS are carried out on national, regional, and State levels.

The map below illustrates the current status of the Soil Survey Geographic database (SSURGO) for the United States. Dark green color indicates that detailed digital maps and associated attribute tables are available. Light green color indicates that only attribute tables are available. White areas indicate that no soil survey has been completed. During fiscal year 2010, NCSS staff had the goal of completing approximately 38 million acres of initial and update soil survey mapping. In fiscal year 2009, 28 new SSURGO datasets were added to the Web Soil Survey (, 545 SSURGO datasets had spatial updates added, and approximately 37.5 million acres of initial and update soil survey mapping were completed.


Available Soil Survey Data

Soil graphic




Data Theme: Watershed Boundaries

Responsible agency: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)


Description: The seamless national Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) is a hydrologic unit framework of uniform size for the United States. It is used for program planning, implementation, and reporting at the national, regional, and local levels. The WBD is also useful in analytical and statistical applications. The WBD is certified to national certification standards for the conterminous United States and Hawaii at 1:24,000 scale, the Caribbean at 1:25,000 scale, and Alaska at 1:63,360 scale. Its development and strategic direction are guided under the leadership of the interagency Subcommittee on Spatial Water Data. The NRCS and the USGS have joint management responsibilities under OMB Circular A–16.

Current efforts are focused on stewardship and integration of the WBD with the National Hydrography Dataset and other datasets, such as the Geographic Names Information System, and harmonization of hydrologic units with Canada and Mexico. Adding functionality to the dataset, including, for example, the addition of flow tables and more useful interpretations along coastal areas, is also a key activity. WBD planning allows for (but does not require) the incorporation of local partner data at high resolution.


This dataset is available through the Geospatial Data Gateway, located at


Watershed Boundary Dataset Status

Watershed Boundary graphic




Data Theme: Wetlands

Responsible agency: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)


Description: The National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) provides management, coordination, and delivery of the Wetlands Layer of the NSDI as required under the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act and as part of OMB Circular A–16. The Wetlands Layer consists of wetlands, deepwater, and riparian geospatial data that are served in a seamless geospatial data repository using a state-of-the-art Wetlands Mapper, served through a Web Mapping Service (WMS), downloaded by State, and available on the Google Earth™ mapping service. Wetlands data provide the classification, location, and extent of wetlands and deepwater habitats. To facilitate wetlands data development, the FGDC endorsed the Wetlands Mapping Standard in July 2009. The Wetlands Mapping Standard is designed to support current and future digital mapping requirements. It is intended to be extensible, forward-looking, and able to accommodate technology enhancements over time. Adherence to the Wetlands Mapping Standard is required for all wetlands mapping activities funded or conducted by the Federal Government.

The wetlands data layer is 63 percent complete as shown in the status map. In fiscal year 2010, NWI received 60 million data requests, upgraded the Wetlands Mapper, and added a riparian layer. NWI also developed a natural resources Gulf Oil Spill Mapper. Wetlands data are registered through Geospatial One-Stop and and can be viewed, analyzed, or downloaded on demand from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wetlands Mapper; the data may also be viewed by the general public using the Google Earth™ mapping service. The current availability of wetlands data is shown below.


Status of Online Wetlands Data

Online Wetlands Data Status





Main Report

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Last Updated: Dec 01, 2010 01:32 PM
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