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Natural Resources & Energy

New Bill Aims To Make Accessing Public Land Simpler

A broad Wyoming landscape with mountains in the background and a small cluster of aspens in the foreground.
Robert Wick
/
Bureau of Land Management
There are a lot of public lands in Wyoming.

Wyoming has a lot of federal and state land - nearly half of the state is federal public land and the State of Wyoming owns another 5.6 percent. Much of it is scattered and broken up by private land, which can make it difficult to access. But public land access could soon be easier to find thanks to a new bill that Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso is cosponsoring.

The Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act (MAP Land Act) would create a digital database of all federal and state public lands and easements across the country. Most public easements, which allow people to cross private land to get to public land, only exist on paper.

"There are over 37,000 recorded easements through the United States Forest Service and the Theodore Roosevelt conservation partnership says only about 5,000 of those are publicly accessible in a digital format," said Barrasso.

According to Barrasso, the bill would allow for increased use of public lands while also protecting the property of private landowners by keeping people from crossing where they're not allowed.

"That the whole lack of accessible information prior to this made it harder for hunters and fishermen and hikers to be able to find out which is the best way to access public lands and we want to make it as easy as possible," he said.

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