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May 04, 2022

King, Risch Bill to Modernize Park, Public Land Mapping Signed into Law

The Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act (MAPLand), co-sponsored by Senator Collins, will digitize public land records to spur outdoor recreation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Chair of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee, and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) celebrated President Joe Biden signing into law their bipartisan Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act to digitize public land mapping records. The legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously and was cosponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), will enhance the nation’s outdoor recreational opportunities by digitizing and standardizing mapping information like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands, improving access to hunting and fishing and supporting Maine sportsmen and women.

This new law builds on Senator King’s efforts to help more people access public lands by utilizing new technologies, including his recent push for the National Park Service to provide digital passes and his legislation pushing to create a “Waze for Parks” that can drive traffic to lesser-visited recreation areas.

“America’s public lands are among our nation’s greatest treasures and have given people from around the world unparalleled access the natural beauty that surrounds us. As the call of the wild grows even stronger for many, we must continue to modernize access to the great outdoors,” said Senator King. “This bipartisan law will make it easier for Americans of all ages to experience our natural treasures, and for hunters, fishermen, and adventurers to recreate safely using the latest mapping technologies. I’m grateful that President Biden has signed this important bipartisan legislation into law, and look forward to seeing how these changes provide new benefits for our nation’s outdoor enthusiasts.”

“Digitizing publicly available records will end the days of reaching a trailhead only to find it is already closed for the season or being unsure where an access point is located. It will also help reduce trespassing on private land by showing new public land users where they can and cannot go,” said Senator Risch. “Now that the MAPLand Act is law, I look forward to seeing my fellow Idahoans take full advantage of these modernized records and explore all that Idaho’s vast public lands have to offer.”

“With vast acres of forests; miles of scenic trails; and numerous pristine lakes, ponds, and rivers, Maine is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts,” said Senator Collins.  “Improving the availability and accuracy of maps will help hunters, fishermen, hikers, and other recreationalists find new areas to explore and enjoy. In addition, by enhancing access to federal lands like Acadia National Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters, our bipartisan law will attract visitors to the surrounding communities, boosting local economies and helping to create jobs.”

“I am thrilled the President has signed this important legislation into law to improve public knowledge of outdoor recreation opportunities and promote increased access to our country’s breathtaking public lands and natural resources. As Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a lifelong outdoorsman, I will continue working to advance common sense, bipartisan legislation that ensures we can safely and responsibly explore and enjoy the wild and wonderful outdoor playground we’ve been blessed with,” said Senator Joe Manchin.

Every year, hunters, anglers, and outdoorsmen miss out on opportunities to recreate on public lands because the only maps showing access points are stored as printed copies in local field offices. The MAPLand Act will now digitize and standardize these mapping records, like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands, to boost outdoor recreation and improve hunting and fishing access for sportsmen and women.  The MAPLand Act has received strong support from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Trout Unlimited’s Angler Conservation Program.

A member of the Energy and Natural Resources and Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Senator King is among the Senate’s loudest voices advocating for public lands and encouraging outdoor recreation. In the April episode of his “Inside Maine” podcast and radio show, King highlighted the importance of National Parks and outdoor recreation with National Parks Subcommittee Ranking Member Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.); Senator King was also recently awarded the inaugural National Park Foundation (NPF) “Hero” Award.

Senator King helped lead the passage the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) into law; the legislation includes the Restore Our Parks Act – a bill led by Senator King – and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Permanent Funding Act. The historic legislative package continues Senator King’s career-long focus on conservation efforts, dating back to his work prior to running for elected office through his years as Governor and his service in the Senate. Over the course of his time in the Blaine House, Governor King was responsible for conserving more land across Maine than all Governors before him combined. 

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