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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) introduced bipartisan legislation to digitize public land mapping records to increase outdoor recreation and improve hunting and fishing access for sportsmen and women.

The Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act will enhance access to the nation’s outdoor recreational opportunities by digitizing and standardizing mapping information like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands.

“Digitizing America’s public land records and making them available online is not only commonsense and overdue, it will make recreating on our public lands infinitely easier,” said Risch. “With the MAPLand Act, hunters, anglers, and outdoorsmen and women can fully enjoy the best of what Idaho’s vast public lands have to offer.” 

“As the coronavirus has drastically transformed life over the past year, more and more Americans have turned to outdoor exploration as a way to care for both their physical and mental health,” said King. “As our nation’s hunters, fishermen, and adventurers set out to explore our beautiful public lands, it is crucial that they are properly equipped to recreate safely. Our bipartisan bill would use the latest mapping technology to help all Americans access and enjoy the great outdoors that surrounds us. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort which will encourage exploration, promote safety, and support local economies for communities that count outdoor recreation as one of their major industries.”

In addition to Risch and King, the legislation is cosponsored by the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The MAPLand Act is supported by many in the conservation and sportsmen community, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Trout Unlimited.

“Quite simply, the MAPLand Act is a common-sense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now more than ever, Americans from all walks of life are embracing the world-class opportunities available on our public lands. This bill will allow sportsmen and sportswomen to take full advantage of access opportunities, make it easier to follow the rules while recreating outside, and reduce access conflicts with private landowners. We want to thank Senator Risch for taking the lead on this important legislation.”

“Digital mapping and GPS technologies have revolutionized the ways in which sportsmen and women navigate public lands and waters. Unfortunately, incomplete and inconsistent information prevents hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters from fully utilizing the benefits of these technologies,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “By providing the necessary resources and direction to federal land management agencies to collect and modernize mapping information, the MAPLand Act is critical to enhancing access on public lands.”

“The No. 1 reason for hunter decline in the U.S. is insufficient public access and quality hunting opportunities. The need to modernize our mapping system is urgent from an access standpoint for hunters and anglers but also critical for improving management of our public lands and waters and developing better data and science for understanding things like migration corridors. BHA thanks Sen. Risch and his colleagues for reintroducing the MAPLand Act and working to fund our management agencies’ efforts in moving map records from paper to a standard, online database. The new wealth of information will only enhance our experiences on public lands and waters and create greater management efficiencies.” –  Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & 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.” –  Steve Kandell, Sportsmen’s Conservation Program Director of Trout Unlimited 

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