Sportsmen and sportswomen call for swift passage of important public land access legislation
(Washington D.C.)—Hunters and anglers around the nation voiced support for the bipartisan Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act as the bill received its first hearing in the 117th Congress.
The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Tuesday for the MAPLand Act (H.R. 3113), introduced by Representative Blake Moore (R-Utah) and co-sponsored by Representatives Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).
The bill will enhance recreational opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that allow outdoor enthusiasts to access the information they need using computer applications and the handheld GPS technology commonly found in smartphones.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to public lands, incomplete and inconsistent mapping data prevents outdoor recreationists as well as land management agencies—including the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Army Corps of Engineers—from utilizing the full benefit of these technologies,” noted the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in its formal testimony.
The MAPLand Act will direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as GIS files. Such records include information about:
- legal easements and rights-of-way across private land;
- year-round or seasonal closures on roads and trails;
- road-specific restrictions by vehicle-type;
- boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting;
- and areas of public waters that are closed to watercraft or have horsepower restrictions.
Last year, a coalition of 150+ hunting- and fishing-related businesses called on Congress to support the bill, highlighting the importance of public land access to the $778-billion outdoor recreation economy.
A companion bill in the Senate was introduced in March of this year by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) alongside Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
“The events of the past year have helped to put in perspective the importance of outdoor access, and this bill would make it easier for Americans from all walks of life and varying experience levels to take advantage of the opportunities we all share,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Hunters, anglers, and the countless other Americans who enjoy recreating on our public lands extend their appreciation to the members of the subcommittee for their attention to this issue and ask lawmakers in both the House and Senate to support the MAPLand Act.”
TRCP’s full testimony in support of the MAPLand Act can be read HERE.
Founded in 2002, the TRCP is the largest coalition of conservation organizations in the country, uniting and amplifying the voices of sportsmen and women by convening hunting and fishing groups, conservation organizations, and outdoor businesses to a common purpose.