The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act. The bipartisan bill, introduced last spring, would require federal land management agencies to make digital geographic information system (GIS) mapping data available to the public. The initiative promises a wealth of digitized public access data available to all sportsmen.
MAPLand Act Promises More Outdoor Access
The MAPLand Act would bring digitized maps and info to the public, including access to federal woods and waters. This info is for anyone who likes to hike, camp, hunt and fish in wild places. And the critical information access is long overdue.
“The House passage of the bill is a huge win for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreators, and the National Deer Association (NDA) celebrates the forward movement in the legislative process,” wrote Torin Miller, Director of Policy, NDA. “NDA outlines hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) as one of our core focus areas. The MAPLand Act will significantly support R3 efforts by increasing access to hunters and outdoor recreators through digital, accurate and up-to-date information on public land access opportunities. After all, access equals opportunity, and NDA greatly supports increasing opportunities for hunters. The MAPLand Act brings much-needed consolidation and modernization to public lands access information.”
“I’m thrilled my MAPLand Act is on its way to President Biden’s desk,” wrote Congressman Blake Moore (R-Utah). “This is a major step forward for all who enjoy our federal lands. I thank my colleagues in the Senate for their strong display of support for our efforts to modernize and digitize our critical public land records. I am grateful we can deliver this major win for Utah and our nation at large.”
Bringing Greater Access for Sportsmen
The NDA reports Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) data, detailing 37,000 U.S. Forest Service easements. To date, only 5,000 of those easements have been converted into digital files. Meanwhile, Moore stated more than 9.52 million acres of western lands lack permanent and legal access points for public use. The government maintains this critical information on paper. The MAPLand Act promises to digitize all this information, giving easy access to the public.
The act provides the financial resources agencies need to digitize these mountains of files. The information includes seasonal vehicle restrictions on public roads and trails, access points and watercraft restrictions. From hunting boundaries to hunting and shooting information, all the way down to waterway horsepower restrictions, the info promised would make getting outside easier for all.
In short, fully realized, the MAPLand Act potentially opens up the entirety of America’s public lands and waters to sportsmen, delivering previously hard-to-find maps and information at the click of a mouse or smart phone.