Sportsmen and women 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 Act as the bill received its first congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on Wednesday for the MAPLand Act, introduced by Senators Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine).
The bill would enhance recreational opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that allow outdoor enthusiasts to access the information they need using 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 Corps of Engineers—from utilizing the full benefit of these technologies,” noted the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in its formal testimony. “The MAPLand Act would help fix this problem by moving our federal land management agencies into the modern era so that public land users of all types can use digital mapping systems and smartphone applications to identify new opportunities for access and recreation while understanding the rules to help reduce unintentional conflicts and violations of the law.”
More specifically, the MAPLand Act would 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 on 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.
In July, 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.
“GPS technology has become a part of everyday life and is now an essential part of the public-land user’s toolkit,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP. “Sportsmen and sportswomen thank Senators McSally and King and the members of the subcommittee for their attention to this issue and ask that lawmakers in both the House and Senate support the MAPLand Act.”
Earlier this year, the TRCP produced a short-animated video explaining the benefits of the bill. The video can be viewed HERE.
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.
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