In the spirit of “catching people doing something right” here’s the announcement: and a special shout out to Rep. Moore of Utah who spearheaded this bipartisan, and dare I say common-sensical and much-needed effort. Sometimes agencies need a little push to coordinate in a way that seems obvious to citizens.
“America is home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world, and it is essential that we have up-to-date information on how to best access our public lands,” Rep. Moore said. “The MAPLand Act will digitize tens of thousands of records so fishers, hikers, hunters, bikers, and those who spend time enjoying our outdoors have all the information they need to have great experiences and make fond memories.”
If enacted, H.R. 3113 specifically would require the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to jointly develop and adopt interagency standards to ensure compatibility and interoperability among federal databases for the collection and dissemination of outdoor recreation data related to federal lands, according to the congressional record bill summary.
Under the bill, the entities must digitize and publish geographic information system mapping data that includes federal interests, including easements and rights-of-way, in private land; status information as to whether roads and trails are open or closed; the dates on which roads and trails are seasonally opened and closed; the types of vehicles that are allowed on each segment of roads and trails; the boundaries of areas where hunting or recreational shooting is regulated or closed; and the boundaries of any portion of a body of water that is closed to entry, is closed to watercraft, or has horsepower limitations for watercraft, the summary says.
“I’m thrilled that the House has passed our MAPLand Act… which will modernize and formalize data sharing across public land agencies, to support our natural resource workforce, our communities and outdoor recreation activities,” said Rep. Neguse.
Here’s the link if you want to see the text.
Below is the interesting part of the text IMHO:
SEC. 4. DIGITIZATION AND PUBLICATION OF EASEMENTS. (a) In General.--Not later than 4 years after the date of enactment of this Act, each of the Secretaries, to the maximum extent practicable, shall digitize and publish on the applicable agency website geographic information system mapping data that specifies, with respect to the relevant Secretary, all Federal interests in private land, including easements (other than flowage easements), reservations, and rights-of-way-- (1) to which the Federal Government does not have a fee title interest; and (2) that may be used to provide public recreational access to the Federal land. (b) Public Comment.--The Secretaries shall develop a process to allow members of the public to submit questions or comments regarding the information described in subsection (a). SEC. 5. DATA CONSOLIDATION AND PUBLICATION OF ROUTE AND AREA DATA FOR PUBLIC RECREATIONAL USE. (a) In General.--Beginning not later than 5 years after the date of enactment of this Act, each of the Secretaries, to the maximum extent practicable, shall make publicly available on the website of the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, and the Corps of Engineers, as applicable, geographic information system data with respect to the following: (1) Status information with respect to whether roads and trails on the Federal land are open or closed. (2) The dates on which roads and trails on the Federal land are seasonally closed. (3) The classes of vehicles and types of recreational uses that are allowed on each segment of roads and trails on the Federal land, including the permissibility of-- (A) off-highway vehicles; (B) motorcycles; (C) nonmotorized bicycles; (D) electric bicycles; (E) passenger vehicles; (F) nonmechanized transportation; and (G) over-snow vehicles. (4) The boundaries of areas where hunting or recreational shooting (including archery, firearm discharge, and target shooting) is permanently restricted or prohibited on the Federal land. (b) Updates.-- (1) In general.--The Secretaries, to the maximum extent practicable, shall update the data described in subsection (a) not less frequently than twice per year. (2) Public comment.--The Secretaries shall develop a process to allow members of the public to submit questions or comments regarding the information described in subsection (a). (c) Effect.--Geographic information system data made publicly available under subsection (a) shall not disclose information regarding the nature, location, character, or ownership of historic, paleontological, or archaeological resources, consistent with applicable law.
Harkening back to the “dispersed camping” discussion.. the bill seems to be about roads and trails and shooting.. but it seems like the maps could possibly include dispersed camping as well if the agencies want to; or drone policies, or ???.