Why it matters: Digital mapping and GPS technologies have fundamentally changed how sportsmen and women traverse federal lands. However, inconsistent, and outdated record keeping practices amongst federal land management agencies hinders the ability of sportsmen and women to fully take advantage of these technologies, which will be addressed in part by the MAPLand Act. The Congressional passage of the MAPLAND is significant win for America’s sportsmen and women.
Last week, the Senate voted to pass the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act under unanimous consent, setting the bill up to be signed into law by President Biden.
For the last few years, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, have been strongly advocating for the passage of the MAPLand Act. CSF has sent numerous action alerts to Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus urging them to vote in favor of the MAPLand Act and coordinated with the bill leads to move this important legislation forward.
Millions of America’s hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooters rely on public lands and waters for recreation. Before planning a trip to a new area, any sportsman or woman can attest to the fact they spend countless hours glossing over maps on their computers or their handheld devices to get a better idea of the water or landscape. However, a lack of clear and publicly available information often deters sportsmen and women from recreating on a given piece of public land.
Furthermore, for many land management agencies much of their mapping information is still held in paper format, which is concerning, as easements and rights-of-way information could be lost in perpetuity if proper documentation is lost or destroyed. Estimates indicate that the U.S. Forest Service has only digitized roughly 5,000 of their 37,000 recorded easements. Unfortunately, federal land management agencies most important to sportsmen and women, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service, lack the necessary financial resources to digitize and modernize mapping information for the lands they manage.
To address these challenges, the MAPLand Act will authorize much needed financial resources over three years for the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army to accelerate the modernization and digitization of public land mapping information. The MAPLand Act also requires that public land management agencies make their information publicly available on their respective websites to be easily accessible by the public
The MAPLand Act now awaits to be signed into law by President Biden.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?