Why it Matters: Access is not only defined as geographic, physical, or temporal access, but it is also the ability to know where, when, and how sportsmen and women can enjoy their respective activities. Unfortunately, that information is not readily available across multiple federal water management agencies, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) recently testified in favor of a solution that will bring public water mapping information into the 21st century.
- On Tuesday, November 14, Taylor Schmitz, Director, Federal Relations, for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries on H.R. 6127, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Waters (MAPWaters) Act.
- As the sole representative from the outdoor community, Schmitz’ testimony provided an opportunity for CSF to effectively convey the importance of this legislation for sportsmen and women.
- The bipartisan MAPWaters Act will require certain federal land and water management agencies within the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to digitize their respective public water mapping information.
- Enhancing and simplifying access for sportsmen and women, as well as other recreationists who will utilize public waters managed by the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture, is a priority for the recreational fishing and boating communities.
On November 14, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the MAPWaters Act, and Taylor Schmitz of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation provided testimony to the Committee as to the need for the bill and the enormous benefits it will provide for our nation’s sportsmen and women.
Led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Rep. Blake Moore, CSC Co-Chair Rep. Jimmy Panetta, Rep. Russ Fulcher, and CSC Member Rep. Debbie Dingell, the MAPWaters Act requires the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service to modernize and digitize their public water mapping information. This digital information must then be made available to the public, as well as companies the provide smartphone applications, marine electronics, and handheld global positioning system (GPS) devices so that end users have the most up-to-date and precise information on federally managed waters under these agency’s jurisdictions. This legislation will help sportsmen and women to know not only where they can access rivers and water bodies, but also understand regulations on things such as waterways that are open or closed to certain types of watercrafts, horsepower restrictions, aquatic invasive species inspection requirements, or what baits or lures are allowed for fishing, among others.
During the hearing, CSF highlighted the importance of this bill to not only increase access, but also to improve and simplify recreational opportunities for America’s nearly 55 million sportsmen and women. CSF looks forward to working with Rep. Moore and the House Natural Resources Committee to advance the bill and modernize the way in which sportsmen and women navigate public waters.
Watch CSF’s Taylor Schmitz Testify Before the House Natural Resources Committee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries on the MAPWaters Act