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Randall Williams

April 7, 2022

Senate Vote Sends MAPLand Act to the President’s Desk

Congress secures groundbreaking public land access win for hunters and anglers

The Senate has passed the Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act, which would enhance recreational opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that allow outdoor enthusiasts to access the information they need using handheld GPS technology commonly found in smartphones.

The MAPLand Act has been a top priority for sportsmen and sportswomen across the country. It is sponsored by Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and co-sponsored by Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.Mex.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-N.H.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the MAPLand Act on November 18, 2021, with unanimous support. A companion bill (H.R. 3113) cleared the House earlier this month in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. That version, following last night’s passage in the Senate, now only awaits a signature from President Biden before becoming law.

“Hunters and anglers as well as our partners in the outdoor industry have been vocal champions of the MAPLand Act since it was first introduced, because we know that this common-sense investment will empower more people to get outside and discover new recreational opportunities,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Last night’s vote is a huge win in ensuring that our public lands system is accessible to all Americans, and we are grateful to both Democratic and Republican leadership for their support of this legislation.”

The MAPLand Act will direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as geospatial files. Such records include information about:

  • Legal easements and rights-of-way across private land
  • Year-round or seasonal closures on roads and trails
  • Road-specific restrictions by vehicle-type
  • Boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting

“We appreciate the leadership shown by members of the Senate in seeing the MAPLand Act through to the finish line,” continued Fosburgh. “Hunters and anglers across the country have good reason to celebrate this moment, which again demonstrates that conservation and our uniquely American public lands system transcend partisanship.”

7 Responses to “Senate Vote Sends MAPLand Act to the President’s Desk”

  1. Jack Delehanty

    Now let’s standardize the rules for Corner Crossing nationally by prohibiting prosecutions and lawsuits as in Carbon County, WY presently at Elk Mountain. Prevent bullies from denying ethical hunters’ and anglers’ and hikers’ lawful access to Public Lands.

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Randall Williams

March 15, 2022

Hunters and Anglers Applaud House MAPLand Act Passage

Groundbreaking public land access legislation awaits a vote in the Senate 

The House of Representatives has passed the Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act (H.R. 3113), which would enhance outdoor recreation opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that provide Americans with the public access information they need while using handheld GPS technology commonly found in smartphones.

Introduced by U.S. Representatives Blake Moore (R-Utah), Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) in May 2021, the MAPLand Act has been a top priority for hunters and anglers across the country. It was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee this past July with unanimous support.

“We thank House lawmakers for listening to the voices of public land users and for making a commonsense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation access,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The MAPLand Act will help more Americans to get outside and enjoy the unparalleled recreational opportunities found within our public land system. It is encouraging to see broad support for this legislation from both sides of the aisle, a welcome reminder that conservation and our outdoor heritage transcend party lines.”

The MAPLand Act will direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as geospatial files. Such records include information about:

  • Legal easements and rights-of-way across private land
  • Year-round or seasonal closures on roads and trails
  • Road-specific restrictions by vehicle-type
  • Boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting

Companion legislation in the Senate (S.904) passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November 2021, with unanimous support. The bill now needs to clear the full Senate before it can be delivered to the president’s desk and signed into law.

“Hunters want more information on where to gain access to public lands but often don’t know where to start and the information can be incomplete. The MAPLand Act will make it easier for sportsmen and women to enjoy our outdoor heritage with modernized information on how to access our public lands,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Thank you to the House of Representatives for coming together in an overwhelming display of support that will benefit all Americans. Now on to the Senate!”

“This is a big win for hunters and anglers, and we appreciate House leadership for bringing this bill to the floor,” continued Fosburgh. “We hope to see a Senate vote on the MAPLand Act in the very near future. The TRCP will continue to voice its support for this important legislation until it becomes law.”

Hunters and anglers can take action in support of the MAPLand Act using the TRCP’s simple advocacy tool.

Kristyn Brady

February 17, 2022

A Record $1.5 Billion is Going to Conservation—Thanks to YOU

A portion of your gear, firearm, license, and boat fuel purchases helped to generate more funding than ever for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to distribute for state work on conservation and outdoor recreation access

Hunters and anglers often engage in conservation through our words and actions, speaking up for sound policies and volunteering to plant native grasses, pick up trash, or band birds. But we also contribute financially to conservation through excise taxes on our hunting, shooting, and fishing equipment, including ammo and boat fuel.

This funding is sorely needed by state agencies that carry out habitat conservation and upkeep of outdoor recreation access points and facilities—and, fortunately, there’s quite a bit more of it this year. It was announced late last week that sportsmen and sportswomen generated a record-breaking $1.5 billion in conservation dollars for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

You might know this funding source as the combined result of the Pittman-Robertson Act, or Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which created an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment in 1937, and the Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, which created a similar tax on fishing tackle, boat equipment, and boat fuel in 1950.

The hunting and shooting side of our community brought in over $1.1 billion for conservation in the past year, while the fishing and boating side generated almost $400 million. Together, this shatters the previous high mark of $808 million distributed for conservation in 2015.

The Associated Press reports that Texas will receive the largest pot of funding ($71 million) followed by Alaska ($66 million) based on land and water area and the number of hunting and fishing license holders in the state. A state-by-state listing of how the funding will be spent can be found here.

To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $25.5 billion in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects, according to a Department of the Interior press release. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $8.5 billion, primarily from hunting and fishing license revenues.

In the final days of 2019, Congress passed a package of its annual appropriations bills that implemented an important change to the Pittman-Robertson Act: Hunting and shooting equipment excise taxes can now be used to help recruit, retain, and reactivate new hunters and recreational shooters, a provision that was made in Dingell-Johnson and that successfully helped to grow the ranks of fishing participation in recent years.

The TRCP and our partners pushed for this change and, at the time of the bill’s passage, we called it “a landmark achievement” for the 116th Congress.

Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson are just two of the cornerstone sources of conservation funding in America, but we rely on many other federal investments in our lands and waters. Click here for a refresher on where your conservation dollars come from.

 

Top photo by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation via flickr

January 13, 2022

TRCP’s Top 10 Conservation Priorities for 2022

The legislative and policy solutions we’re pursuing to improve habitat and your hunting and fishing opportunities

Following a 2021 that was a rollercoaster in so many ways, the year ahead provides hunters, anglers, and the conservation community with significant opportunity. Lawmakers deep in re-election cycles know that habitat, access, and conservation funding issues are things that most Americans can agree on and are eager to bring home legislative wins to their voters.

Working alongside our partners, here’s what we want to get done this year.

Infrastructure Implementation

Passed in late 2021, the $1.2-trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides significant federal investment in programs benefiting fish and wildlife on public and private lands, including a first-of-its-kind five-year wildlife crossings grant program. The TRCP will closely follow the implementation of this and other programs to ensure that dollars are both benefiting fish and wildlife and enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities.

 

Building Climate Resilience

Efforts to address our changing climate continue to become less polarizing in Congress. There is significant interest among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in prioritizing carbon sequestration and nature-based solutions that mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events on vulnerable rural communities. Whether in the proposed Build Back Better package, other potential climate legislation, or the 2023 Farm Bill, the conservation community will have an active voice in the discussion.

 

Passage of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act

Led by Representatives Kind of Wisconsin and Thompson of Pennsylvania, this comprehensive legislation would provide state wildlife and agriculture agencies with much needed resources for CWD management and suppression. The bill would also create a CWD research grant program to study the spread of the disease and direct the USDA to collect public feedback on ways to improve oversight of the captive deer industry. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives in late 2021 and awaits introduction in the Senate.

 

Protection of Bristol Bay in Statute

In late 2021, the Biden Administration once again halted the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska. While this was welcome news, more work is needed to federally protect the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fishery in statute. The TRCP is working with lawmakers and state and national partners in developing legislation to do just that.

 

Passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

RAWA would provide state wildlife agencies with nearly $1.4 billion annually to implement state wildlife action plans, allowing for more proactive conservation of wildlife and associated habitat to avoid potential endangered species listings. Introduced by Representative Dingell of Michigan and Senator Heinrich of New Mexico, the legislation has bipartisan support in both chambers and would be a generational investment in wildlife conservation.

 

Passage of the Modernizing Access to Public Land Act

The MAPLand Act, championed by Senator Risch of Idaho and Representative Moore of Utah, would require that maps and easement records held by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are digitized and publicized for the benefit of all Americans. Doing so would bring recordkeeping into the 21st century and provide hunters and anglers with much greater certainty in planning outings on our public lands.

 

Introduction of the North American Grasslands Conservation Act

In the last half-century, the intense conversion of grasslands has precipitated a steep decline in associated bird populations. The TRCP and several partners have worked for the past year on developing an innovative grant program for grass and rangeland conservation that works with ranchers and landowners to improve ecosystem health and ensure that their acreage remains productive and healthy habitat for years to come. Our groups have worked closely with Senator Wyden in developing the legislation and are looking forward to bringing the bill before the House and Senate.

 

Improving the State of Gulf Menhaden

Largescale industrial menhaden fishing in the Gulf accounts for more than one billion pounds of this forage fish harvested each year, making it Louisiana’s largest fishery. Pogie boats often operate near shore, netting thousands of other fish species, including red drum and speckled trout. Anglers have fought to restrict these operations in the surf zone but continue to face opposition from menhaden processors citing economic impacts. In 2022, the TRCP will continue to work with partners and scientists who study the bycatch of such operations and pursue legislation to further reduce the impact of the industrial menhaden fishery on sportfish in the Gulf, with a particular focus on protecting beaches and other shallow-water habitat.

 

Using the Power of Habitat to Boost Water Resources

Western watersheds, such as the Colorado River and Rio Grande, face increasing pressure from wildfire and drought. Natural infrastructure approaches—such as the protection and restoration of headwater wetlands and riparian areas—have been shown to effectively reduce natural hazard risks while benefiting water users and watersheds. In 2022, TRCP is working to prioritize the implementation of natural infrastructure and nature-based solutions to address Western water challenges in various federal and state policy initiatives, with a focus on the 2023 Farm Bill and this year’s Water Resources Development Act. We’ll also be pushing for the latter legislation to improve Everglades restoration funding and build on the successful construction of projects to help restore natural waterflows.

 

Conserving Migration Corridors

Beyond the wildlife crossing pilot program included in recently passed legislation, additional solutions are needed to conserve big game migration corridors across the country. The TRCP and partner groups are continuing to work with state and federal land managers to increase investments in research and corridor mapping, improve interagency coordination, and conserve corridors on public land.

 

For more information, and to take action in support of these critical conservation priorities in the year ahead, visit the TRCP Action Center.

Kristyn Brady

December 15, 2021

10 Conservation Achievements We’re Proud of in 2021

Your support helped to make these organizational and legislative successes possible

Setting the Agenda

In early 2021, the TRCP staff clearly communicated top hunter and angler priorities to the incoming Biden-Harris Administration and members of the 117th Congress. Our top ten must-do list for the administration and top five priorities for Congress were among our most popular blog posts of the year, making it clear that American hunters and anglers are engaged in these policy discussions—and we let decision-makers know that sportsmen and sportswomen are paying attention. At the 100-day mark, we’d seen progress on many, but not all, of our top priorities, and conservation has advanced even further in the remainder of the year. Read on for details.

 

Strengthening a Popular Farm Bill Conservation Program

In April 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration implemented multiple recommendations from the TRCP and our private land conservation partners to boost shrinking enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program. These changes will not only help to pull the CRP out of a slump, they will also better support farmers and ranchers who want to incorporate conservation into their business plans. Learn more about Farm Bill conservation programs here.

 

BLM Colorado
Helping to Secure Conservation’s Role in “30 by 30”

Almost immediately after the inauguration, the news of the administration’s support for a global initiative to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030 had left some landowners, politicians, industry executives, and even conservation groups fearful about what exactly this would mean. Fortunately, the voices of sportsmen and sportswomen—including those behind huntfish3030.com—were heard, and the White House’s 10-year “America the Beautiful” initiative includes key TRCP priorities, like expanding habitat conservation, increasing outdoor recreation access, incentivizing the voluntary conservation of private land, and creating jobs through conservation. Here’s what you need to know about 30 by 30.

 

Creating More Certainty for Special Places

After years of facing conservation rollbacks in bucket-list hunting and fishing destinations, hunters and anglers finally got some good news in 2021. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would restore conservation safeguards for 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, and the public can weigh in on the detailed plan until mid-January. The EPA also announced new steps to permanently protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from mining, while the Ruby Mountains Protection Act—a TRCP priority, given its impact on Nevada’s largest mule deer herd—was debated and voted out of committee. Learn more at sportsmenfortherubies.com.

 

USFWS Alaska
Restoring Clean Water Protections

In an important step for fish and waterfowl, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers began to reconsider which waters and wetlands should be protected under the Clean Water Act, with formal feedback provided by the hunting and fishing community. This marks the fourth pendulum swing since a series of Supreme Court cases created confusion in the early 2000s. For more detail, check out our brief timeline on the history of the Clean Water Act.

 

USFWS National Elk Refuge
Conserving Migration Corridors

Throughout the year, new commitments were made by the USDA, the Department of the Interior, and the governors of New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado to conserve and enhance wildlife migration corridors—a signature TRCP issue. Learn more on our resource page devoted to all things big game migration.

 

BLM Wyoming
Creating Conservation Jobs

Many key priorities of the TRCP and our partners are also included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed by President Biden in November. We successfully pushed for a revolutionary program to build more wildlife-friendly highway crossings and once-in-a-generation investments in stream connectivity, forest health, coastal and estuarine habitat conservation, water quality, and water conservation projects across the West.

 

Craig Okraska / Maven
Unlocking Public Land Access

In 2021, lawmakers reintroduced and advanced the TRCP-led MAPLand Act, which would require public land agencies to digitize their paper maps and access information. Once accomplished, this would help you identify more inroads to public hunting and fishing areas using smartphone apps and GPS devices. After clearing committees in both chambers, the legislation is poised for floor votes that could send it to President Biden’s desk next year.

 

USDA
Boosting Efforts to Study and Stop the Spread of CWD

This summer—as chronic wasting disease outbreaks traced back to captive deer operations in Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota highlighted the need for definitive federal action—we worked with lawmakers to craft comprehensive chronic wasting disease legislation that would establish substantial funding streams for management activities, education, and research priorities. We’re very proud to stand behind the bill that was introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) in October and passed by the House just last week.

 

Gregg Flores / Rachel Smiley / Kelsey Johnson / Durrell Smith
Highlighting Individuals Who Are Shaping Conservation’s Future

Part of the fun of what we do is making you aware of the hunters and anglers out there who help to power conservation without asking for any acclaim. This is just a small window into the community that we feel lucky to be a part of. If you need some uplifting reading this holiday season, check out our Q&As with Durrell Smith, Kelsey Johnson, Gregg Flores, and Rachel Smiley. Be inspired by what Clint Bentley was able to accomplish for Nevada’s bighorn sheep populations, just by speaking up. Let Austin Snow take you along on his hunt with Steven Rinella and Janis Putelis of MeatEater. Or take just a few minutes to watch Suzy Weiser, Charles Garcia, and Geo Romero explain why conservation in the Colorado River Basin is personal for them.

 

That wraps up our top ten for the year. Thanks for following along and supporting our work to create conservation success across the country. It wouldn’t be possible without you. Want to do even more for habitat, access, and the outdoor recreation economy? Donate to the TRCP before December 31, and SITKA will match some or all of your gift. Learn more here.

Email subscribers: The December 17th Roosevelt Report is the last of the year, and we’ll be back on January 7, 2022. Want to get on the list for the next one? Subscribe here.

 

Top photo courtesy of Kyle Mlynar.

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CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

As our nation rebounds from the COVID pandemic, policymakers are considering significant investments in infrastructure. Hunters and anglers see this as an opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations.

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