Ecoregions are identified by analyzing the patterns and composition of biotic and abiotic phenomena that affect or reflect differences in ecosystem quality and integrity. These phenomena include geology, landforms, soils, vegetation, climate, land use, wildlife, and hydrology. The relative importance of each characteristic varies from one ecological region to another regardless of the hierarchical level. A Roman numeral classification scheme has been adopted for different hierarchical levels of ecoregions, ranging from general regions to more detailed. Included in this dataset is additional details about each level, and downloadable maps and GIS data files.
Noteworthy for its agricultural productivity, ecological diversity, and complexity, the Bay Delta is one of the largest and most complex water delivery systems in the nation. The Sacramento River and San Joaquin River meet in the Delta, which provides water to one of the most significant estuary ecosystems in the United States and provides drinking water to 25 million Californians. The Bay Delta offers habitat to 55 species of fish and 750 species of plants and wildlife. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
One of the most threatened ecosystems in North America, native prairie and grasslands contained within the Prairie Grasslands Region are essential habitat for a number of wild game and threatened species, including the lesser prairie chicken and sage grouse. The region also encompasses the Red River Basin of the North and the Ogallala Aquifer—areas that are facing critical conservation needs on working lands from frequent flooding and ponding (in the north) to prolonged drought and aquifer decline (in the Ogallala). This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
The Columbia River Basin provides habitat for salmon and steelhead, essential components of a healthy ecosystem and critical to Indian tribes and local communities. Loss of quality habitat because of pressures from population growth threaten fish numbers and the overall health of the basin. With this Critical Conservation Area designation, USDA will build on existing strong partnerships in the basin to work with agricultural producers to improve water quality and quantity in order to restore critical components of salmon habitat, aid in the recovery of Pacific salmon, and protect public health and the environment while maintaining a strong agricultural sector. The boundary of the CCA is a portion of the Columbia River Basin that includes essential fish habitat. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
Longleaf pine forests once encompassed more than 90 million acres of the North American landscape and represented some of the world’s most unique biologically diverse ecosystems. In 2010, approximately three percent, or 3.4 million acres, of longleaf pine forest remained. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
Irrigated agriculture is vitally important to the economy and quality of life in many areas of the Colorado River Basin. It also accounts for a significant share of the basin’s existing water use, shared among 33 million people in the United States plus 3 million in Mexico. Faced with historic drought conditions and water supply pressures, farmers, ranchers, Indian tribes and other water users are in urgent need of accelerated conservation on working agricultural lands. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
The Mississippi River is North America’s largest river, flowing over 2,300 miles through America’s heartland to the Gulf of Mexico. The watershed not only provides drinking water, food, industry, and recreation for millions of people, it also hosts a globally significant migratory flyway and home for over 325 bird species. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
Critical Conservation Areas (CCAs) are designated by the Secretary of Agriculture and represent an opportunity for many stakeholders to come together at a regional level to address common natural resource goals while maintaining or improving agricultural productivity. Partners, working closely with producers and communities, define and propose projects that will achieve regional natural resource goals while also meeting complementary local conservation priorities.
America’s Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario — hold 21 percent of the world’s surface fresh water and host habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species of concern. They provide drinking water for more than 40 million people and economic benefits from fishing and recreation. The Great Lakes Region is also a major agricultural area, with more than 55 million acres of land under production. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.
The largest estuary in North America, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed covers 64,000 square miles and includes more than 150 rivers and streams that drain into the Bay. More than 300 species of fish, shellfish and crab species and a wide array of other wildlife call the Bay home. With almost 30 percent of area in agricultural production, the region’s over 83,000 farms generate more than $10 billion annually. This dataset includes a printer-friendly CCA map and shapefiles for GIS.