The Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, which would direct federal land management agencies to digitize and standardize mapping records, has won the support of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).
The legislation, H.R. 3113, will allow hunters, anglers, and millions of other federal land users to access essential information about public lands as well as help federal land management agencies identify public lands with limited or nonexistent public access points and take proactive steps to open them to the public.
“The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) commends the bipartisan leadership … with their introduction of the Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act while recognizing the importance of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technologies,” said NSPS Executive Director Curtis Sumner. “NSPS stands ready to help with the objectives of this important federal land and ownership data reform legislation, and strongly encourages congress and the president to enact the MAPLand Act into law.”
The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 11 by Blake Moore (R-UT), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Joe Neguse (D-CO), and Kim Schrier (D-WA). The Senate version of the bill, S. 904, was introduced earlier this year with bipartisan sponsors.
“Our nation is blessed with some of the most incredible scenic landscapes and outdoor spaces in the world,” said Moore. “But each year, millions of Americans venture into the great outdoors without having the most up-to-date data on land access … The MAPLand Act, which would address this by digitizing tens of thousands of records to ensure that fishers, hikers, bikers, hunters, and all who seek to enjoy our federal lands have access to the information they need to fully experience our country’s natural wonders.”
“My family treasures the time we spend hiking, biking, and fishing across our region,” said Schrier. “We are fortunate to live in a state full of natural beauty, with some of the best parks and recreation areas our country has to offer. Modernizing and standardizing information so people know how to access our public lands will allow Washingtonians and visitors from across the country and world to enjoy our great outdoors.”
Currently, more than 9.52 million acres of land in the West lack permanent and legal access points for public use, and information on these lands is still kept on paper files. Approximately 5,000 of the Forest Service’s 37,000 easements have been digitized and uploaded to an electronic database.
The MAPLand Act would help give federal land management agencies the resources they need to digitize these files for public use, as well as require these agencies to provide information on seasonal vehicle restrictions on public roads and trails, hunting boundaries, and watercraft restrictions.
“This legislation will help the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers become better stewards of federal and public lands and better land managers by bringing their records into the 21st Century,” said U.S. GEO founder John Palatiello.
“Access is one of the most important issues facing hunters and anglers today, and the MAPLand Act is a commonsense investment to ensure all Americans can take full advantage of the recreational opportunities on our public lands,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “In addition to making it easier for public land users to stay safe and follow the rules while out in the field or on the water, this bill would allow our agencies to manage and plan more effectively while also reducing the potential for access-related conflicts between recreators and private landowners. Simply put, this legislation promises to help more people get outdoors.”
“In order for us to continue to grow this important sector that makes up 2.2 percent of the national GDP and employs 5.2 million Americans, we need to know where we can get outside on public and private lands and when and how to best protect them. The MAPLandAct will help us do just that,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.