If you’ve ever tried to book a public lands campground online, you know the process is frustrating and difficult. The Access Land initiative is seeking “Open Data for Open Land” which is basically a geeky way of saying we need to open public land information and booking tools to promote competition and growth in online and mobile services.

Here’s how the Access Land folks explain the issue:

The federal government is requesting feedback on a draft contract that will define how we access our public lands for the next decade. They are seeking a private contractor to build software that will provide online access to our nation’s parks, forests, monuments, campsites, cabins, and tours. As drafted, this contract places all the control into the hands of one contractor and one website, creating a closed silo and a monopoly.


We can create a better world by encouraging the government to require a more open system. We’ve already successfully pushed to extend the comment period until November 7th and have the attention of Whitehouse officials and Congress. Now, we need your help in sending the message that this contract needs to require open data and an API, which will allow third parties to access this data and build on top of it, improving everyone’s access to public lands.

The deadline for public input is tomorrow, November 7 so if you want to make finding and booking public lands campgrounds as easy as booking a hotel on Travelocity, be sure to submit your comments to jasonmking@fs.fed.us. AccessLand.org has sample emails you can use to get started.

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