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Expanding Public Access [Video]

Ground-breaking legislation is bringing funding for digitizing information to improve access to Federal lands.  

We are working with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) and several other partners, including onXmapsSavage ArmsSig Sauer, and Kenetrek boots, to tell this story in a short film entitled, Paper Trails (check out Eastmans’ Hunting Journals YouTube channel to watch). 

This short film is highlighting land-access issues AND the legislation called the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, using Guy Eastman’s and my antelope hunts in Wyoming in 2022 to help tell the story. 

Guy drew a tough-to-draw, limited quota, antelope tag in a unit that is mostly public land with big buck potential, while I drew an easy-to-draw antelope tag in a unit where accessing public land is difficult and trophy quality is low.

Many of the easement records that identify legal means of access into lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are stored at the local or regional level in paper files. This makes it difficult for hunters, anglers, and even the agencies themselves to identify public access opportunities. For example, of the 37,000 existing easements held by the U.S. Forest Service, the agency estimated in 2020 that only 5,000 had been converted into digital files.

Most of the landscape is without property boundary fences and sportsmen have a hard time knowing if there is a public easement across private land to enable them to legally get to the rest of the public land they want to hunt.

In addition to making it easier for public land users to stay safe and follow the rules while in the field or on the water, this bill would allow our agencies to manage and plan more effectively while also reducing the potential for access-related conflicts between recreators and private landowners.

In Paper Trails, we dive deep into this exciting project to help all of us legally access Federal lands via established easements through certain parcels of private land. You’ll hear from ranchers, Forest Service officials, BLM officials, TRCP staff, and onXmaps staff on how challenging this topic of access is and how steps are being taken to help alleviate the problem.

Go to Eastmans’ Hunting Journals YouTube page in April to see for yourself. Hopefully, within the next few years we’ll have access to these easement locations in onXmaps to quickly find them in the field. Get prepared. Stay prepared. Hunt hard!

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