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Natural Heritage Data Explorer Fee Implementation

North Carolina’s Natural Heritage Program has implemented fees for:

  • Use of the project review tool within the Natural Heritage Data Explorer.
  • GIS shapefiles of Natural Heritage Element Occurrence records.
  • Customized environmental review services.

Access to all other functions of the Natural Heritage Data Explorer will remain free for all users. GIS shapefiles for the following data will be provided without fee:

  • Natural Heritage Natural Areas
  • Managed Areas
  • Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat Assessment
  • Open Space and Conservation Lands
  • Agricultural Lands Threat and Viability Assessments
  • Forestry Lands Assessments

Are there fee exemptions?

Federal, state and local agencies are exempt from fees, as well as nonprofit agencies who use the project review tool and/or Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data to establish nature preserves.  All other individuals and organizations will be required to pay fees.

I already have a Data Explorer account, what steps do I need to take?

When you log on to your account, select the type of service or data you wish to use/receive (options described below). Those users required to pay fees will receive a prompt to pay for selected services or data. You may pay the fee with a credit or debit card. Access to projects submitted earlier will be provided with payment.

Exempt users (as described above) will not receive a prompt to pay. They can access the project review tool and projects submitted earlier without fee.

What are my options for access to project review, GIS data, or other services?

Data Explorer Project Review annual subscription: $600.00 per individual user. This option allows you to generate an unlimited number of natural heritage resource reports. These reports include information on rare species, natural communities, natural areas, and nature preserves for user-defined project areas. You can see natural area, managed area, conservation planning, and reference layers in the online map viewer. You may also perform species/natural community searches and receive summarized results by county or quad.

Data Explorer Project Review without an annual subscription: $100.00 per project review. This option allows you to generate one (1) natural heritage resource report for a user-defined project area. Users can identify and query natural area, managed area, conservation planning, and reference layers in the online map viewer. They may also do species and natural community searches and get summarized results by county or quad. We charge a separate fee for each project review submitted.

This choice may be best for users familiar with the operation of the Natural Heritage Data Explorer who want an immediate response within 5 minutes of submitting a query. This is also a good option for those who do not expect to need more than 6 project review queries per year.

Customized environmental review request: $65.00 per hour. You will receive a natural heritage resource report prepared by NHP staff that is the same as reports provided by the Natural Heritage Data ExplorerThese reports include information on rare species, natural communities, natural areas, and nature preserves for project areas you define. When submitting the request, you must submit a cover letter describing the proposed activity and a map of the project area. This choice is best if you don't wish to submit a project through the Natural Heritage Data Explorer. You will not receive an immediate response and may wait up to two weeks.

GIS shapefiles of Natural Heritage Element Occurrence records: $100.00 per species, county, or 8-digit hydrologic unit.

Biological field survey: $65.00 per hour. You may request a biological field survey of a project location. Natural Heritage field biologists will conduct a field survey and provide a report of their findings. The survey report will include a summary of observations and maps of rare species, natural communities, natural areas, and nature preserves within the project area. After you submit a request for a biological field survey, Natural Heritage Program staff will contact you to develop a work order. The work order will include scope of work and a timeline.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

Please contact Lauren Schlosser at lauren.schlosser@ncdncr.gov, or 919-707-9392.


What Is a NHP Natural Area?

A NHP natural area is land or water important for the conservation of the natural biodiversity of North Carolina. The Natural Heritage Program identifies these natural areas based on biological surveys (G.S. § 143B-135.250. - § 143B-135.272)We receive permission from landowners and land managers before doing any inventories. We base natural area identification on ecological and biological information currently found on the site.

The 2,500+ natural areas we have identified in North Carolina contain the best rare species populations, habitats, and communities. Our goal is to include the full range of organisms and ecological processes that comprise North Carolina’s Natural Heritage.

NHP adds a few natural areas each year as biologists gain access to new tracts of land. We also remove natural areas from the data set as they deteriorate or if we find better examples of priority species or natural communities.

Conditions on the ground may change based on natural forces or land management decisions. We recommend that boundaries and natural area data be verified with a site visit before you make land use decisions based on Natural Heritage Program data.

Visit the following links for more information on the subject:

What is a Registered Heritage Area?

When a landowner signs an agreement with the Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to voluntarily protect the natural heritage value of a natural area identified by the Natural Heritage Program, the site is considered a Registered Heritage Area. The Registry agreement is non-binding and can be canceled at any time, although the Natural Heritage Program appreciates 30 days written notice. The Registry is authorized in the Nature Preserves Act (G.S. § 143B-135.250. - § 143B-135.272).

More on Registered Heritage Areas

What is a Dedicated Nature Preserve?

Publicly or privately-owned Significant Natural Heritage Areas can be dedicated as State Nature Preserves under the Nature Preserves Act (G.S. § 143B-135.250. - § 143B-135.272) to establish a lasting conservation commitment. A dedication agreement is similar to a conservation agreement in that it identifies specific activities, such as foot trails, that can occur on the property, and other activities, such as commercial development, that are prohibited. Dedications are approved by the Governor and the Council of State and are held in trust for the benefit of the people of North Carolina.

Learn about Dedicated State Nature Preserves