From Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:
WASHINGTON – The Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act, or MAPLand Act, which would modernize and digitize map records for the benefit of public lands hunters, advanced through the U.S. Senate late yesterday under a procedural vote that allowed the unanimously supported bipartisan bill to move without objection.
Led by Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Angus King (I-ME), the Senate vote follows the MAPLand Act’s near unanimous passage through the House of Representatives in March. Strong support by sportsmen’s and women’s groups, including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, helped propel the bill to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Inadequate or faulty data can spell disaster for the public land hunter,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney, “and the importance of reliable, comprehensive information on access opportunities on our public lands cannot be overstated. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks our Senate and House leaders who championed this foresighted, commonsense effort to address the problem of limited public access.”
The MAPLand Act would fund public land management agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers, to standardize, compile and release digital map records to the public. The publicly available information would include the open or closed status of roads and trails on public lands, vehicle-use regulations and boundary details.
Currently, more than 16.4 million acres of U.S. public lands are landlocked – surrounded by private lands – and inaccessible. Information made available through the MAPLand Act would allow hunters and anglers to discover new opportunities on public lands and waters and boost the nation’s annual $842.2 billion outdoor recreation economy.
Tawney concluded: “In a political climate that can be characterized by partisan rancor and discord, passage of a fundamentally bipartisan effort is worth celebrating. Here’s to unity and shared values in the name of access to our public lands, and here’s to the MAPLand Act becoming law!”
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