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Lawmakers promoting digital access to public lands data

May 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah Rep. Blake Moore, R-District 1, joined other lawmakers Tuesday in introducing legislation that would ensure that recreationists have up-to-date digital information about public lands.

“Each year,“ Moore explained, “millions of American venture into the great outdoors without having the most up-to-date data on land access. I am proud to sponsor the ‘MAPLand Act,’ which would address this concern by digitizing tens of thousands of records to ensure that anglers, hikers, bikers, hunters and all others who seek to enjoy our federal lands have access to the information they need to fully experience our country’s natural wonders.”

“The Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act” would require federal land management agencies to digitize and standardize their mapping records.

Moore believes that will allow outdoor enthusiasts and millions of other federal land users to access essential information about public lands. The proposal is also aimed at helping federal land management agencies identify public lands with limited or non-existent public access and encourage them to take steps to open that land to the public.

Moore’s co-sponsors on the “MAPLand Act” are Representatives Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Kim Schrier (D-WA).

The proposal is also supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and other outdoor advocacy groups.

“Access is one of the most important issues facing hunters and anglers today,” according to Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Partnership. “The ‘MAPLand Act’ is a commonsense investment to ensure that all Americans take full advantage of the recreational opportunities of our public lands …

“We appreciate Rep. Moore for his leadership in introducing this bill in the House and our community is eager to help move the ‘MAPLand Act’ through Congress.”

Moore’s office noted that more than 9.5 million acres of federal land in the West have no permanent or legal access points for public use and all information on those lands is still kept on paper files.

Of the Forest Service’s 37,000 easements, only about 5,000 have been digitized and uploaded to readily-accessible electronic databases.

The “MAPLand Act,” Moore argued, would give federal land management agencies the resources they need to digitize such files for public use.

The proposed legislation would also require federal agencies to provide public information on seasonal vehicles restrictions on public trails and roads, hunting boundaries and watercraft restrictions.