The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and Ashley National forests are iconic public lands in our neck of the woods. They provide countless opportunities to pursue big game such as elk and mule deer, fish for trout in cold streams, habitat for upland game birds and space to enjoy the great outdoors.

Utah GOP Rep. Blake Moore, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, helped successfully pass legislation this week that would have significant benefits for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreators who enjoy these Utah gems and others like them. 

HR3113 — the Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act — is important for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreators because it requires public land management agencies to digitize map records on accessible public lands. This means less accessible paper maps are going to be available on a cellphone screen, our modern mapping device, and more easily accessible for the vast majority of Americans.

The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers have thousands of paper records to standardize, compile and release for digital access. This new wealth of publicly available information will allow us to discover new opportunities on our public lands and waters. 

One of the most important benefits of the act would be the improved ability to access information on easements and rights of way to our public lands and waters. The bill would standardize additional information, including the open or closed status of roads and trails on public lands, vehicle-use regulations, and other boundary details, which makes access more viable for more people. 

On behalf of Utah residents, thank you, Moore, for your leadership in helping ensure passage of the act on the House floor. This legislation shows that support for improving the ability for Americans to access our public lands and waters is overwhelmingly bipartisan. 

Moore’s work to secure this public access win should be commended by all of us who use our public lands and waters for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation. We at the Utah Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers salute Moore for doing the right thing, and we hope to see this bill passed by the Senate and signed into law as soon as possible. 

Lauren Ryan is a board member for Utah Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and works full time as a land use planner. She lives in Logan with her husband and German shorthaired pointer rescue Faye.