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Letter to be sent:
As a conservation minded individual, I understand the value of America’s 640 million acres of public lands in sustaining mental and physical wellness for all Americans. That’s why I support the Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act. This legislation has bipartisan support in both the Senate (S. 3427) and House (H.R. 6169) and would facilitate standardizing, digitizing, and disseminating information regarding recreational access and allowable activities on millions of acres of federal public lands throughout the United States.
Millions of anglers and 34 percent of all hunters in the United States depend on public lands for some or all of their recreational access. Over the past decade, digital mapping and GPS technologies have revolutionized the ways in which sportsmen and women navigate public lands. By pinpointing a user’s real-time location on the landscape, hand-held GPS units and smartphone applications allow sportsmen and women to know exactly where they are located relative to property boundaries and other key landmarks. These technologies have made millions of acres of previously unavailable public lands accessible to the public.
Unfortunately, incomplete and inconsistent mapping data prevents both outdoor recreationists as well as land management agencies — including the U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Army Corps of Engineers — from utilizing the full benefits of these technologies.
For example, many of the agencies’ access easement records are still held on paper files at local offices and cannot be integrated into digital mapping systems. The U.S. Forest Service alone has an estimated 37,000 recorded easements, only 5,000 of which have been digitized and uploaded into its electronic database.
The MAPLand Act would authorize and fund agencies to digitize these easements and upload them into digital mapping systems where they can be most useful to the public and to those working to unlock public access.
Further, this legislation would require federal agencies to develop interagency standards for public land access information to ensure that it is useful in modern GPS-mapping programs. This includes providing information for the public to understand recreational opportunities and restrictions on their federal public lands, such as those tied to road and trail access, shooting and hunting, and boating on lakes and rivers.
These steps combined would make public land access information more readily available to sportsmen and women. In addition, it will benefit our bottom line by further growing the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy. We hope that you’ll join us in supporting access to America’s public lands by cosponsoring the MAPLand Act and advocating for its swift passage.