Carlsbad’s famous hiking trails, fishing holes and desert vistas will be more accessible after a bill sponsored by New Mexico’s senior US Senator Martin Heinrich is signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The Modernizing Access to Our Public Lands Act (MAPLand) passed the US Senate last month before going to the President’s desk for signature.
The new law requires federal agencies to digitize mapping information, such as access points to federal public land resources, while also including information about permitted uses.
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It will help boost New Mexico’s growing outdoor recreation industry, Heinrich said, which will rely on increased access and awareness.
According to a report by the Outdoor Industry Association, about 65 percent of New Mexicans participate in some form of outdoor recreation annually, while the industry contributes about $9.9 billion in consumer spending and $623 million in state and local tax revenues.
The sector also represents 99,000 direct jobs, the report said, accounting for $2.8 billion in wages.
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According to the report, the industry has $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs nationwide.
Heinrich said modernizing and supporting industry is a key component of New Mexico’s economic diversity.
“With our wide skies and remote open spaces in New Mexico, modernizing access to our public lands will help people better navigate the great outdoors and play a key role in growing our state’s recreation economy,” he said.
The MAPLand Act was also sponsored by US Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).
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It was supported by conservation and sports groups across the country, who argued the law would improve access to natural resources.
Federal funds are being invested in upgraded mapping systems that can be accessed via global positioning systems (GPS) and used by outdoor recreational participants.
Federal agencies are also required to publish information such as B. Legal relief on private property, seasonal closures of access roads and trails, vehicle restrictions and boundaries of various areas designated for specific purposes such as hunting.
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Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said passage of the law will help Americans have better access to outdoor recreation.
“Hunters and anglers, and our partners in the outdoor industry, have been vocal in supporting the MAPLand Act since its inception because we know this wise investment will empower more people to get outside and explore new recreational opportunities,” said fosburgh
“Hunters and anglers across the country have good reason to celebrate this moment, which demonstrates once again that conservation and our unique American public land system transcend partisanship.”
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A study released in November by the Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked New Mexico 27th nationally for outdoor recreation, as it contributes about 2 percent of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) — about $2 billion.
Axie Navas, director of the state’s Outdoor Recreation Division within the Department of Economic Development, said last year has been a year of recovery for the industry after suffering declines in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the state saw a 30 percent growth in boating and fishing last year, along with a 10 percent increase in cycling and other activities.
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And the state worked to support local outdoor recreation projects, Navas said, awarding $898,000 in grants to 57 recipients that Navas estimated could result in up to 20,000 children gaining access to outdoor recreation.
Twenty-five projects statewide have received funding from the division’s Trails+ program, which funds local projects such as hiking trails, rivers and wildlife viewing areas with a total of approximately $560,000 in state funds.
The state planned to use about $2 million in aid money made available by the Federal Economic Development Administration and $10 million made available by the Legislature during its most recent session this year to address continued growth in the industry, Navas said.
“This is economic development, but also community development. How do we make sure there is access to those opportunities,” she said. “It’s that communal quality of life. We strive for growth. We can be number 1 but we have to do it our way.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.