Gap Analysis Program (GAP)

The USGS Strategic Plan for the Gap Analysis Program (GAP) states that the purpose of GAP is to provide regional assessments of the conservation status of native vertebrate species and natural land cover types and to facilitate the application of this information to land management activities.  This is accomplished through the following five objectives:

  1. Map the land cover of the United States

  2. Map predicted distributions of vertebrate species for the U.S.

  3. Document the representation of vertebrate species and land cover types in areas managed for the long-term maintenance of biodiversity

  4. Provide this information to the public and those entities charged with land use research, policy, planning, and management

  5. Build institutional cooperation in the application of this information to state and regional management activities.

GAP is a project of the Biological Informatics Programs of the U.S Geological Survey (USGS).  It is being implemented nationwide with the help of more than 400 cooperating organizations, including the private sector, non-profit groups and other government agencies.  The Upper Midwest Gap Analysis Program is a partnership designed to avoid duplicating efforts while meeting the diverse information needs of the participating state and federal cooperators. 

UMGAP is being coordinated by the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC), Biological Informatics Programs, U.S. Geological Survey, La Crosse/Onalaska, Wisconsin.  Cooperative agreements are in place with the Departments of Natural Resources of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to develop current vegetation maps and public ownership and management maps.  UMESC is also coordinating with Gap programs in neighboring states to ensure the development of  regionally compatible information layers. 

In 2002 the Minnesota DNR finished development of a GAP land cover data set down to a 1 acre mapping unit.  This data is available from the MN DNR.