This original announcement was published by the EPA on June 27, 2023. Click here for more information.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making the geographic data used to conduct Endangered Species Act (ESA) assessments for pesticides publicly available for the first time via interactive maps. The maps and underlying data that EPA is releasing today support the Agency’s broader efforts to improve protections for federally threatened or endangered (listed) species as outlined in the ESA Workplan and increase transparency in EPA’s pesticide review process. These data are not new. Rather, EPA is making existing data broadly accessible and providing a new tool to help users access the data. The maps also show which crops are grown near these species and habitats, which can help users determine which pesticides might be used in these areas. EPA relies on the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) for information on the biology and location of listed species. As the Services continue to learn more about where some listed species are likely located, information will be updated and refined in the maps.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) play an important role in ESA assessments. GIS are computer-based tools used to store, visualize, analyze and interpret geographic data, such as where listed species occur. EPA uses these data to understand the distribution of listed species and gauge their potential to be exposed to pesticides at use sites.
Until today, EPA was technologically unable to release all its ESA GIS data because of the amount of data involved, but advances in technology have allowed EPA to overcome this problem. The maps EPA is releasing today allow anyone to access the GIS data online, and are particularly useful for federal, state, and local governments, tribal partners, environmental organizations, and pesticide registrants who want to conduct their own endangered species analysis.
The new maps are interactive, allowing users to filter and explore the data in real-time, and can be shared with others through a web link or embedded in a website or app. Engaging the public and stakeholders through maps and other visual tools can help convey complex information in an easy-to-understand manner, offering a greater sense of place-based mitigations to protect species from pesticides.
By making these maps and data publicly available, EPA is:
- Advancing transparency in the Agency’s ESA evaluations by making aggregated information that EPA uses to identify areas where listed species can be found publicly available.
- Promoting a more efficient regulatory process by allowing pesticide registrants to easily see what types of endangered species may be located near or in pesticide use sites. This information should be particularly useful to inform proposed mitigation measures early in the pesticide review process.
- Ensuring that users have access to information that may be incorporated into future ESA evaluations. EPA updates the spatial data it uses for its ESA analyses on a regular basis, and it intends to post updates as they occur.
Visit EPA’s website to learn more about these new maps and how to use them.