Author: Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman
Idaho Rep. Russ Fulcher joined three other members of Congress on Tuesday to introduce a bill that would standardize public land data across the country and potentially make it easier for Idahoans to access federally managed land.
The bill, called Modernizing Access to our Public Land, or MAPLand, was cosponsored in the House by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Washington, and introduced in the Senate by Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, and Sen. Angus King, D-Maine.
According to a news release from Fulcher’s office, federal land managers don’t have consistent digital records on land ownership.
“The U.S. Forest Service alone has an estimated 37,000 recorded easements, only 5,000 of which have been digitized and uploaded into their electronic database,” the release said.
The MAPLand bill would apply to land managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and Army Corps of Engineers.
The bill calls on the agencies to make all public land data digitally available within three years of the passage of the legislation. Geographic information system maps of the public land would be available on the agencies’ websites and include information on seasonal access, hunting and shooting regulations and other limitations.
If enacted, the legislation would cost $33.5 million, to be taken from Interior, Agriculture and Army budgets over three years beginning in 2021.
“Sportsmen and outdoor recreationalists have a tremendous impact on our Idaho culture and economy,” Fulcher said in the news release. “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.”
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