Heinrich Backs Legislation To Improve Public Land Mapping, Boost Outdoor Recreation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to digitize public land mapping records to increase outdoor recreation and improve hunting and fishing access for sportsmen and women. 

The Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act will enhance access to the nation’s outdoor recreational opportunities by digitizing and standardizing mapping information like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands. 

“The pandemic has given Americans a renewed appreciation for the outdoors for both our physical health and mental wellbeing,” said Heinrich. “With our expansive skies and remote open spaces in New Mexico, I am convinced that modernizing access to our parks and public lands, through efforts like the MAPLand Act, will play a key role as we rebuild and grow New Mexico’s outdoor recreation economy.” 

This legislation would enable New Mexico’s public lands to be mapped in a standardized, digitized format across all four public lands agencies in a significant degree of detail. New Mexico’s burgeoning outdoor recreation economy depends in large part upon citizens’ access to reliable, comprehensive information about public land areas, access points, and permitted activities. 

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, New Mexico outdoor recreation generates $9.9 billion in consumer spending annually, supports almost 100,000 jobs, creates $2.8 billion in wages and salaries, and brings in about $623 million in state and local tax revenue. 

Senator Heinrich has a long-standing history of improving access to public lands. In 2019, Senator Heinrich played a leading role in the passage of a landmark bipartisan public lands legislative package, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. That law included Senator Heinrich’s bipartisan provisions of the Sportsmen’s Act sponsored by Heinrich to extend key conservation programs and the HUNT Act, a bill Heinrich authored to require federal land management agencies to identify opportunities to open up new outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands for hunting and fishing. 

The MAPLand Act, led by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine), is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine). 

The MAPLand Act is supported by many in the conservation and sportsmen community, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Trout Unlimited. 

“Quite simply, the MAPLand Act is a common-sense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now more than ever, Americans from all walks of life are embracing the world-class opportunities available on our public lands. This bill will allow sportsmen and sportswomen to take full advantage of access opportunities, make it easier to follow the rules while recreating outside, and reduce access conflicts with private landowners. We want to thank Senator Risch for taking the lead on this important legislation.” 

“Digital mapping and GPS technologies have revolutionized the ways in which sportsmen and women navigate public lands and waters. Unfortunately, incomplete and inconsistent information prevents hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters from fully utilizing the benefits of these technologies,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “By providing the necessary resources and direction to federal land management agencies to collect and modernize mapping information, the MAPLand Act is critical to enhancing access on public lands.” 

“The No. 1 reason for hunter decline in the U.S. is insufficient public access and quality hunting opportunities. The need to modernize our mapping system is urgent from an access standpoint for hunters and anglers but also critical for improving management of our public lands and waters and developing better data and science for understanding things like migration corridors. BHA thanks Sen. Risch and his colleagues for reintroducing the MAPLand Act and working to fund our management agencies’ efforts in moving map records from paper to a standard, online database. The new wealth of information will only enhance our experiences on public lands and waters and create greater management efficiencies,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

“[The #MAPLandAct] Makes sure that information about public land access and areas open for hunting and fishing is kept current and readily available for sportsmen and women,” said Steve Kandell, Sportsmen’s Conservation Program Director of Trout Unlimited