WASHINGTON – The bipartisan Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act passed the Senate unanimously and now heads to the President’s desk for signature. Led by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine), with additional support from Energy and Natural Resource Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), will enhance access to our nation’s outdoor recreational opportunities.
“I am proud to see this commonsense legislation make its way to the President,” said Senator Risch. “The MAPLand Act will not only make it easier than ever for outdoorsmen and women to explore and recreate on Idaho’s vast public lands, but for them to do so legally and responsibly.”
“America’s public lands have always enabled our citizens to get outside to explore the natural beauty that surrounds us – and in recent years, the call of the wild has grown even stronger for people across our nation,” said Senator King. “Our bipartisan legislation will make it easier for America’s hunters, fishers, and adventurers to recreate safely, using the latest mapping technologies to help more Americans access our public lands. I’m grateful that this legislation has passed through Congress with strong bipartisan support, and look forward to seeing how it supports our nation’s outdoor enthusiasts.”
“As Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a lifelong outdoorsman, I’ve long championed initiatives to increase access to our country’s stunning public lands and natural resources. I am therefore incredibly proud to see the Senate pass our common sense, bipartisan legislation that further pursues this mission. By providing our federal land management agencies with the resources to collect and digitize public land mapping records, we will improve public knowledge of outdoor recreation opportunities with up to date information and help our sportsmen and women better navigate the wild and wonderful outdoor playground we’ve been blessed with,” said Chairman Manchin.
“Congress has passed legislation that will allow America’s sportsmen and women easy access to digital maps of our public lands and waters,” said Ranking Member Barrasso. “The bill will help fishermen, hunters, and hikers to easily plan their adventures. The people of Wyoming understand the importance of promoting outdoor access while ensuring private property rights are protected. The MAP Land Act will do just that by clarifying the roads and trails outdoor enthusiasts can use.”
Background: Every year, hunters, anglers, and outdoorsmen miss out on opportunities to recreate on public lands because the only maps showing access points are stored as printed copies in local field offices. The MAPLand Act will digitize and standardize mapping records, like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands, to boost outdoor recreation and improve hunting and fishing access for sportsmen and women.
The MAPLand Act has received strong support from the sportsmen and outdoor recreation communities:
“Last night's passage of the MAPLand Act is a huge win in ensuring that our public lands system is accessible to all Americans, and we are grateful to Senators Risch and King for their leadership on this important issue,” said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Hunters and anglers as well as our partners in the outdoor industry have been vocal champions of this common-sense legislation since it was first introduced, because we know that a 21st-century digital mapping system for our public lands will empower more people to get outside and discover new recreational opportunities.”
“Digital mapping and GPS technologies have revolutionized the ways in which sportsmen and women navigate public lands and waters. Unfortunately, incomplete and inconsistent information often prevents hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters from fully utilizing the benefits of these technologies,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President and CEO Jeff Crane. “CSF applauds Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) past Co-Chair Sen. Risch, current CSC Leaders Sens. Heinrich and Manchin, and other bipartisan Senators for championing this important legislation.”
“The No. 1 reason for hunter decline in the U.S. is insufficient public access and quality hunting opportunities. The importance of reliable, comprehensive information on access to our public lands and waters cannot be overstated. The need to modernize mapping systems is also critical for improving active management of fish and wildlife habitat and developing better data and science for understanding things like migration corridors. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks Senator Risch and the congressional leaders in both chambers who championed this foresighted, commonsense effort,” said Land Tawney, CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
“Quality hunting and fishing requires healthy habitat and access for hunters and anglers. The #MAPLandAct makes sure that information about public land access and areas open for hunting and fishing is kept current and readily available for sportsmen and women,” said Steve Kandell, Director of Trout Unlimited's Angler Conservation Program.
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