Washington, D.C. – Following on President Obama's announcement yesterday of steps he's taking to help boost U.S. tourism, the Administration today convened the first meeting of an interagency group to promote recreation and improve coordination among federal land and water management agencies. As part of the meeting, the group announced an online effort to enhance access to information on public lands and outdoor recreation.
Improving the quality and quantity of information available online is one of the priorities identified by the public and discussed during the inaugural meeting of the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR) held today. FICOR was established through President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative (AGO).
Changes to expand and improve online information will be targeted on the existing www.Recreation.gov site, which features recreation information for seven federal agencies. The site will serve as a one-stop-shop for the public to find helpful information on the best places to hike, bike, fish or find solitude.
“As President Obama made clear yesterday, boosting tourism, outdoor recreation, and visitation to America's icons can help power new jobs and economic activity in communities across the country,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “This effort is about good government - by pooling our resources and knowledge, we can build a site that is easy to navigate and will provide an important gateway to the many wonders our public lands have to offer.”
The FICOR meeting, held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, was attended by senior leaders from the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Army, Department of Commerce and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
“Recreation.gov is a perfect example of interagency cooperation to leverage resources and provide recreational opportunities for all Americans, as well as international visitors to American public lands and waters,” Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The outdoor industry contributes an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy. As the agency providing administrative leadership to the Recreation.gov portal, we want to create a new public/private model for partnership and cooperation.”
“President Obama created the America's Great Outdoors initiative in recognition of how vital our parks, rivers, working lands and wild places are to our culture, economy and quality of life,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “With the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation, we are bringing agencies together to open up access to recreation resources, leverage partnerships with the private sector, and realize the President's vision of healthy outdoors spaces all Americans can enjoy.”
FICOR's role will be to promote, create, and support a collaborative nationwide system of sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities that will significantly contribute to America's economy, community development and environmental conservation, as well as citizens' health, wellness and quality of life.
"The FICOR council is going to help the President and his Administration keep our promise to become better stewards of the lands and water we are fortunate enough to have. We look forward to the energy and focus that FICOR will bring to our agencies," said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works. "FICOR will further increase the Fiscal Year 2011 total of 1.4 million volunteer hours served at Corps sites and the 850 partnerships we have throughout our program."
In addition to improving online content, other FICOR priorities include steps to improve access to federal lands, promote outdoor education through interagency coordination, support recreation-based activities to stimulate local economies and back conservation measures to maintain healthy lands.
The new council will also work closely with the existing Federal Advisory Committee Act bodies to strengthen the relationship between public health and wellness and the outdoors through the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
For more information about FICOR, visit www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov/ficor.