The Department of Interior released four high value data sets on national volunteer opportunities, federal natural recreation opportunities, wildland fires and acres burned from 1960 through 2008 and herd information for wild horses and burros as part of OGD.
The wild fires data set lists areas in the country where several acres of land has been destroyed over a 48 year period. While, more acres burned in recent years — 9.8 million acres in 2006 with 96,000 fires — the highest number of fires was in 1981 with 249,000 fires that burned 4.8 million acres of land.
The wild horses data provides the statistics of ten states with the amount of public and private lands designated as herd areas or herd management areas. Herd management areas are places where horses and burros have enough food, water, and space. This information is valuable to the government and public for herd management purposes. According to the Bureau of Land Management’s website about 6,400 animals have been removed in 2009 from the range to control herd sizes.
“The welfare of these animals is of great interest to the public and this data set provides increased transparency into the herd locations and numbers,” wrote Joan Moody, a DOI spokeswoman in an email.
Two of the other data sets released Friday, probably the ones most useful to the public, the volunteer opportunities and the recreation data sets are already available online here and here in a better and usable format compared to the XML downloads on data.gov.