MAPLand Act: opening access to More Public Land
If you’ve ever hunted the vast expanse of public land out West, especially on BLM tracts of land, you’re gonna love this! So much of the public land out West is intermingled with private land and it is difficult at best to know whether or not you can trespass across that private land.
Most of the landscape is without property boundary fences and even if you’re using onX to know where exactly you are, you still have a hard time knowing if there is a public easement across private land to enable you to legally get to the rest of the public land you want to hunt on or travel through to get to the land you intend on hunting.
New legislation, called the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, is ground-breaking legislation intended to help with additional funding for digitizing information about:legal easements and rights-of-way across private land; year-round or seasonal closures of roads and trails, as well as restrictions on vehicle-type; boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting; and areas of public waters that are closed to watercraft or have horsepower restrictions.
According to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), “many of the easement records that identify legal means of access into lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are stored at the local or regional level in paper files. This makes it difficult for hunters, anglers, and even the agencies themselves to identify public access opportunities. For example, of the 37,000 existing easements held by the U.S. Forest Service, the agency estimated in 2020 that only 5,000 had been converted into digital files.”
TRCP’s CEO Whit Fosburgh says it best on the importance of this bill, “In addition to making it easier for public land users to stay safe and follow the rules while 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.”
I’m personally stoked to see where this goes! As a former federal and state agency employee, and lifelong sportsman, I can see so many good uses for the end product if this bill gets passed. Here are the congressmen and women involved with the bill. Let them know your thoughts. Links to the House and Senate pages is below:
House of Representatives: Blake Moore (R-Utah), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and Joe Neguse (D-CO)
Senate: Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) alongside Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Steve Daines (R-Mont), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz)