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White House Forms ‘FICOR’ Council Dedicated to Outdoor Recreation

ficorGlacier National Park; (photo/SNEHIT PHOTO via Shutterstock)
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On July 21, the White House launched an interagency effort to ‘expand outdoor recreation opportunities’ for Americans across the country.

The new Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR) formed Thursday to bolster Americans’ access to the outdoors. White House documents say the council will function to “improve access to nature, and provide the public with more affordable experiences on America’s public lands and waters.”

Leaders from various cabinet agencies will sit on the council. U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense will work together to bolster access to outdoor recreation.

FICOR arrives as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative. First outlined in May 2021, the document serves as a blueprint for a “10-year, locally-led” conservation effort nationwide.

The Obama administration launched a body similar to FICOR in 2011, but the Trump administration later suspended it. The first version of FICOR was responsible for creating recreation.gov, the go-to hub for booking campsites on federal land.

Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation Goals

FICOR’s new iteration seeks to address numerous hot-button conservation and public lands issues. Electric vehicle infrastructure and visitor inclusivity on federal lands, such as national parks, make the list.

According to a White House statement released yesterday, the council’s priorities include:

  • Investing in a wide range of recreation infrastructure including electric vehicle charging stations, trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, docks, and boating access.
  • Creating education and career opportunities in conservation, outdoor recreation, habitat restoration, and resource management work.
  • Providing comprehensive visitor information for the hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, birding, climbing, and boating communities.
  • Cooperating with state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, including those in communities near federal lands and waters.
  • Improving equitable access to federal lands and waters and working with private, public, tribal, and nonprofit organizations to create a welcoming visitor experience.

One issue with the FICOR plan is where, exactly, it will carry out its initiatives. America’s public lands are a complicated patchwork.

Adam Cramer, CEO of the Outdoor Alliance, attended the White House announcement of the program.

“FICOR will help land managers work together to think about how to improve access to the outdoors for all Americans, address crowding, and promote and enhance outdoor recreation across all different kinds of public land,” Cramer said.

“FICOR will also help the agencies collaborate to address climate change, fund critical programs, and better communicate with visitors, which will benefit everyone who gets outside on public lands and waters.”

As of now, FICOR details no specific plans as to how it will actualize its goals. But its existence does appear to represent federal acknowledgment that America’s public lands are suffering from a combination of record-level visitation and strained funding. Simultaneously, public lands are not readily accessible to many Americans.

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