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The Federal Interagency Council of Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), whose goal was to support economic development through outdoor recreation, was reestablished in a White House signing ceremony yesterday, the Biden Administration announced.
Established under President Obama, FICOR was suspended by the Trump Administration in 2020. With Thursday’s signing, FICOR again aims to promote economic development through the outdoor industry.
FICOR is part of the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which falls under the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The council will coordinate efforts between federal land and water management agencies aimed at furthering economic development through the recreational use of public land and water.
A Cornerstone of Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative
FICOR is one of the six areas outlined in the America the Beautiful plan. The others include creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities; supporting tribally-led conservation and restoration priorities; expanding collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors; incentivizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers, and forest owners; and creating jobs by investing in restoration of public lands and waters.
“It’s something we’ve been advocating for and are very happy to see resumed,” Outdoor Industry Association President Lise Aangeenbrug told OBJ. “FICOR presents a unique opportunity for cross-agency collaboration that will help us address challenges and opportunities for our public lands…Our public lands and waters provide so many benefits for people, wildlife, communities, and businesses, but need increased funding, coordination, and collaboration—particularly now with more people outside, historic wildfires, and droughts.”
“Solidifying FICOR could not have come at a better time to support America’s public lands, waters, and $689 billion outdoor recreation economy,” Outdoor Recreational Roundtable (ORR) President Jessica Turner said in a press release. “It is critical that federal land and water management agencies work together to address important recreation issues around funding, overcrowding, and climate resiliency…ORR and its members are ready to partner however we can on solving these challenges together.”
ORR has created a webpage to explain the details of FICOR to the public. Created in 2011, FICOR was responsible for creating the recreation.gov public lands reservation system and Every Kid Outdoors Pass, as well as tracking outdoor recreation as an economic sector through the Bureau of Economic Analysis. With the reinstatement of the group, the Biden Administration says it hopes to again track the economic impact of outdoor recreation nationally.
FICOR includes leadership from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense, and will measure success based on how well it does at “improving access to nature, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and providing the public with improved and more affordable experiences on America’s public lands and waters,” according to a White House statement.
The White House cites outdoor recreation as a rapidly growing economic segment that represents 1.8 percent of the nation’s GDP and generates $374.3 billion in revenue nationally.