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GPS technologies have fundamentally changed how sportsmen and women traverse federal lands, however, inconsistent, and outdated record keeping practices amongst federal land management agencies hinders the ability of sportsmen and women to fully take advantage of these technologies,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. This bipartisan bill has now passed both Committees of jurisdiction in Congress with strong bipartisan support – helping pave the way for a future floor vote.
On November 18, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the bipartisan Modernizing Access to Our Public Lands Act, on a voice vote – a sign of the strong bipartisan support for this innovative legislation.
Millions of America’s hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters rely on public lands and waters for recreation. When planning a hunting or fishing trip, any sportsmen and women 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 land or waterscape before they go afield.
Unfortunately, the federal land management agencies most important to sportsmen and women, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service, among others, lack the necessary financial resources to digitize and modernize mapping information for the lands they manage to make this process easier on sportsmen and women. For example, through no fault of their own, it is estimated the U.S. Forest has only digitized roughly 5,000 of their 37,000 recorded easements.
To address this challenge and to bring public land mapping information into the 21st century, 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.
If enacted, the MAPLAND Act would provide better information as to: easements and rights-of-ways, whether roads and trails are open to the public, allowable types of vehicles, hunting and recreational shooting boundaries, and information on allowable types of watercraft, which is all vital information to sportsmen and women.
With the MAPLand Act passing the respective Committees of jurisdiction in the House and the Senate, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will work to see this important bill be scheduled for a floor vote in both chambers.
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?