House advances Moore’s bill to digitize mapping records

The U.S. House of Representatives on March 15 voted 414-9 to advance a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) that would direct federal land management agencies to digitize and standardize mapping records.

“I look forward to seeing this legislation soon pass the Senate,” the congressman said on Tuesday.

Rep. Moore in May 2021 introduced the Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, H.R. 3113, with three original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), to allow federal land users to access information about public lands, and to help federal land management agencies identify and take steps to open up public lands having limited or nonexistent public access points, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Moore’s office. 

“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.

H.R. 3113 was received on March 16 in the U.S. Senate, where the identical bill, S. 904, is under consideration in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.