Tuesday, Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Russ Fulcher (ID-01) introduced legislation to enhance access to the nation’s outdoor recreational opportunities by digitizing mapping information like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands. U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The outdoor recreation economy generates 201,000 direct jobs in Washington, as well as $26.2 billion in consumer spending and $2.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. Improving public land access in Washington is important not just for recreational purposes, but also for the state’s jobs and economy.
“Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula, I saw firsthand how special our region is and how our public lands contribute to the fabric of who we are. Having worked in economic development professionally for over a decade, I also saw that folks in our region rely on access to our public lands to support our growing outdoor economy,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill to standardize and modernize information regarding public lands – so our outdoor recreation community can continue to bolster our local economies.”
Rep. Fulcher said: “Sportsmen and outdoor recreationalists have a tremendous impact on our Idaho culture and economy. I am proud to be introducing the MAPLand Act to modernize information and access to our public lands so Idahoans can utilize these public places.”
“As an avid hiker and outdoorswoman, I know first-hand the importance of having accurate mapping and access data for public lands,” Senator McSally said. “My legislation will increase recreational opportunities and allow people to more fully enjoy and appreciate the beauty of our public lands by making it easier to find information for expeditions.”
“America’s public lands are some of our nation’s greatest treasures, providing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all generations to connect with the bountiful natural gifts that surround us all,” said Senator King. “The rise of mapping technologies creates new opportunities to modernize safety and access in helping Americans recreate in the outdoors through fishing and hunting – if we can make sure these lands are accurately mapped and that information is easily accessible. This is a win-win, helping the American people take in our beautiful country and supporting local economies and recreation businesses, and I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort.”
“GPS technology has become an essential part of the public-land user’s toolkit. This bill will allow sportsmen and women to take full advantage of the world-class opportunities on our public lands, make it easier to follow the rules while recreating outside, and reduce access conflicts,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Quite simply, this is a common-sense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. We want to thank Senators McSally and King and Representatives Fulcher and Kilmer for taking the lead on this important legislation.”
“The No. 1 reason hunters and anglers stop pursuing their outdoor passions is insufficient access,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “BHA thanks Sens. McSally and King and Reps. Kilmer and Fulcher for introducing commonsense legislation that requires federal land management agencies to collect data on accessible public lands – and make it digitally available to millions of people. Hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts will know where they can access public lands with the help of 21st century mapping technologies. This will also benefit local economies that depend on the outdoor recreation industry.”
Bill text can be found HERE.
- This legislation will require federal land management agencies to digitize their mapping records so that information like access points, easements, roads, and permissible uses are easily accessible to the public through popular GPS and mapping technologies.
- While this information is already publicly available, it is often siloed in paper files across regional and local offices.
- Some efforts have been made to update and digitize these records, but agencies often cite that they lack the money or resources to do so.
This legislation is endorsed by: Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, onX, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Trout Unlimited, RV Industry Association, Anglers United.Print This Post