A bipartisan group of lawmakers unviewed legislation Monday that will direct federal land management agencies to digitize and standardize mapping records. Supporters of the Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act, better known as the MAPLand Act, says this legislation will allow hunters, anglers, and millions of other federal land users to access essential information about public lands as well as their respective management agencies.
Currently, more than 9.52 million acres of land in the West lack permanent and legal access points for public use, and information on these lands is still kept on paper files. The MAPLand Act would help give federal land management agencies the resources they need to digitize these files for public use, as well as require these agencies to provide information on seasonal vehicle restrictions on public roads and trails, hunting boundaries, and watercraft restrictions.
Currently, more than 9.52 million acres of land in the West lack permanent and legal access points for public use, and information on these lands is still kept on paper files. Approximately 5,000 of the Forest Service’s 37,000 recorded easements have been digitized and uploaded to an electronic database. The MAPLand Act would help give federal land management agencies the resources they need to digitize these files for public use, as well as require these agencies to provide information on seasonal vehicle restrictions on public roads and trails, hunting boundaries, and watercraft restrictions.
“My family treasures the time we spend hiking, biking, and fishing across our region,” said Washington Representative Dr. Kim Schrier. “We are fortunate to live in a state full of natural beauty, with some of the best parks and recreation areas our country has to offer. Modernizing and standardizing information so people know how to access our public lands will allow Washingtonians and visitors from across the country and world to enjoy our great outdoors. I’m proud to sponsor this bipartisan bill that will protect our beloved public lands and also support local businesses that rely on the outdoor recreational economy.”
“Sportsmen and outdoor recreationalists have a tremendous impact on our Idaho culture and economy,” said Idaho’s Russ Fulcher. “As the proud author of this bill last year, I am thankful for Rep. Moore’s leadership and interest in furthering this effort to modernize information and access to our public lands so that those in Idaho, Utah, and around the country can better utilize these public places.”
“Our nation is blessed with some of the most incredible scenic landscapes and outdoor spaces in the world,” said Utah Representative Blake Moore. “But each year, millions of Americans venture into the great outdoors without having the most up-to-date data on land access. I am proud to sponsor the MAPLand Act, which would address this by digitizing tens of thousands of records to ensure that fishers, hikers, bikers, hunters, and all who seek to enjoy our federal lands have access to the information they need to fully experience our country’s natural wonders.”
“In Colorado, access to public lands fuels our robust outdoor recreation economy, contributes to the health and well-being of Coloradans and is at the core of our state’s values,” said Colorado’s Joe Neguse. “I’m proud to help introduce the bipartisan MAPLand Act today which will modernize and formalize data sharing across public land agencies, to support our natural resource workforce, our communities and outdoor recreation activities.”
“Access is one of the most important issues facing hunters and anglers today, and the MAPLand Act is a commonsense investment to ensure all Americans can take full advantage of the recreational opportunities on our public lands,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “In addition to making it easier for public land users to stay safe and follow the rules while out in the field or on the water, this bill would allow our agencies to manage and plan more effectively while also reducing the potential for access-related conflicts between recreators and private landowners. Simply put, this legislation promises to help more people get outdoors. We appreciate Representative Schrier for her leadership to introduce this bill in the House and our community is eager to help move the MAPLand Act through Congress.”
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