The Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act (MAPLand Act) heads to the full House floor after passing unanimously from the House Committee on Natural Resources last week.
Introduced by Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT), H.R. 3113 directs the Department of the Interior (including the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management), the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to jointly develop and adopt standards to ensure federal databases are compatible with each other in regards to the collection and dissemination of outdoor recreation data for federal lands.
The agencies must digitize and publish geographic information system mapping data that includes:
- federal interests, including easements and rights-of-way, in private land
- status information as to whether roads and trails are open or closed
- dates on which roads and trails are seasonally opened and closed
- types of vehicles that are allowed on each segment of roads and trails
- boundaries of areas where hunting or recreational shooting is regulated or closed
- boundaries of any portion of a body of water that is closed to entry, is closed to watercraft or has horsepower limitations for watercraft.
“This is a big step forward for hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “Having access to digitized maps with updated boundaries, roads, access points and closures, ensures people can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about trespassing on private lands or hunting or fishing an area that is closed for management purposes.”
The vast amount of maps and information on easements and federal public lands and waters are available only on paper, and most haven’t been updated in many years, some for decades.
“Digitizing and making this information available to the public to use with GPS devices or mapping apps will reduce conflicts with bordering landowners, help users of public lands and water remain lawful, and assist fire fighters and other first responders in the event of an emergency,” said Matt Lindler, NWTF director of Government Affairs.
A Senate companion bill (S. 904), introduced by Sen. James Risch (R-ID), was introduced earlier this year and is in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.