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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan,, 804-786-2292.

Date: June 25, 2013
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292,

Web tool makes conservation data easily accessible

RICHMOND — A few clicks of a mouse is now all it takes to reveal a wealth of information about Virginia’s natural assets. 

The new Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer at provides public access to maps and data about protected lands, ecologically significant areas, wetlands and more. 

Natural Heritage Data Explorer merges three previously used web tools into a single powerful tool. With a few more clicks, users can create customized maps.

“We have a lot of information, and people trust our information,” said René Hypes, project review coordinator for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Program. “We’re hoping the new system will encourage more people to use this resource.”

Program staff is responsible for the identification, protection and stewardship of Virginia’s natural heritage resources — such as the habitat of rare, threatened or endangered plant or animal species, significant or rare natural communities, and other sites of scientific interest. Managing, using and sharing information about these resources is a key component of the program.

Natural Heritage Data Explorer was developed for DCR by the nonprofit conservation organization NatureServe. NatureServe is working on similar platforms for other states, but Virginia’s is the first to launch. 

The tool provides access to 20 map layers showing the status of all protected lands, conservation priority lands, boundaries and reference information such as streams and roads. Layers can be viewed on one of eight base maps, such as a street map or topographic map. Users can search backend data with text queries or by clicking a point on the map; details are displayed instantaneously. Users even have the capability to share and print customized maps.

“You can use all of this to make your own maps right on the site,” said Jason Bulluck, information manager for the Natural Heritage Program. “You can mark up and label maps, print them, share them, pull in your own data — pretty much anything you want to do as far as mapmaking goes.”

A detailed user guide is available at the site.

For more information about the Natural Heritage Program, go to


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