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Monday, February 6th, 2023

Bill seeks to improve information sharing for missing persons on federal lands

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U.S. Reps. Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Tim Burchett (R-TN) introduced a bill they said seeks to improve information-sharing efforts for missing persons on federal lands.

The Tracking and Reporting Absent Community-members Everywhere (TRACE) Act would enhance information sharing efforts by making a series of improvements to the existing National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database, requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to include additional categories to record cases in which the person went missing on federal lands.

“As the Representative for a district that is over fifty percent public lands, and Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, I firmly believe we must do more to protect every hiker, backpacker, explorer, and tourist that comes to our national parks for enjoyment and recreation,” Neguse, House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands chair, said. “This bill provides a much-needed update to the existing missing persons database, increasing protections for Americans and ensuring that should tragedy strike — and an individual was to go missing — there are processes in place to properly aid in their search and rescue efforts.”

Estimates suggest at least 1,600 people have gone missing on public lands — and without more accurate public data, the figure is likely even higher.

“No missing persons case should go unsolved just because investigators couldn’t easily access the information they need,” Burchett said. “Improving the way our agencies record and share case details could save lives and would also help the public gain more insight into how these situations are handled.”

Per the legislation, the TRACE Act also requires the Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Defense to input existing missing persons cases on their lands into the NamUs system.