Improving Outdoor Recreation Coordination Act STATEMENT OF MICHAEL T. REYNOLDS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON FEDERAL LANDS, REGARDING H.R. 3107, TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO ESTABLISH THE FEDERAL INTERAGENCY COUNCIL ON OUTDOOR RECREATION. September 19, 2023 ______________________________________________________________________________ Chairman Tiffany, Ranking Member Neguse, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 3107, to direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation. The Department supports H.R. 3107 with amendments. The Department defers to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Army, and the Department of Commerce regarding their views on this bill’s provisions, particularly as they affect the U.S. Forest Service, the Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service, respectively. H.R. 3107 would require the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), composed of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The bill would require FICOR to meet as frequently as appropriate to coordinate recreation policies across Federal agencies, including implementation of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and many other matters that are common to agencies that manage Federal lands and waters for recreational purposes. The legislation would provide a statutory basis for FICOR, which is currently administratively established. Our Nation’s public lands, waters, and the fish and wildlife they support are an important resource for the American public. These places provide a diversity of outdoor recreation experiences for tens of millions of Americans each day and improve the social well-being of urban and rural communities across the United States. These recreational opportunities are supported by agency work both on and off federal lands. Outdoor recreation also contributes significantly to the national economy and the economies of local communities. Federal land and water management agencies have longstanding responsibilities for the conservation and sustainable use of the resources within the places they manage. The need for interagency coordination of Federal departments and agencies with the responsibility to manage lands and waterways for outdoor recreation has a history dating back to at least 1946 with the development of the Federal Recreation Committee, which was soon after redesignated as the Federal Inter-Agency Committee on Recreation. Since then, there have been several iterations of this organized coordination, including the most recent Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation reestablishment in July 2022 through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) signed by the Secretaries or Assistant Secretaries of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Army (Civil Works), the Department of Commerce (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the Department of the Interior. Collectively, these agencies manage an area of more than 730 million non-overlapping acres that consist of parks, lakes, monuments, wild and scenic rivers, Reclamation water projects, wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, forests, and marine sanctuaries and wilderness areas. The overall goal of the FICOR, as defined in the recent MOU, is to institutionalize and facilitate better coordination and collaboration among Federal agencies whose missions or programs include providing outdoor recreation and conserving or sustainably managing natural and cultural resources. FICOR provides a framework to address common outdoor recreation-related challenges and opportunities since each of these land and water management agencies are also facing similar challenges related to balancing resource protection, local environmental and economic vitality, and visitor use and enjoyment. Many of these agencies have also recently benefitted from significant Federal investments to address critical needs and improve the visitor and outdoor recreation experiences provided through the Great American Outdoors Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Since FICOR’s 2022 reestablishment, the agencies have collectively developed an Operational Charter and a two-year workplan focusing coordination on priority topics which include permitting and fees, policy and regulations, equitable workforce, outdoor recreation for all, intergovernmental and community collaboration, partnerships, youth engagement, data and technology, and visitor use planning. The workplan also includes coordination to ensure the long-term sustainability of FICOR through identifying funding and establishing a well-vetted organizational structure. The Department would appreciate the opportunity to work with the sponsor and the Committee on amendments to make the bill consistent, to the extent possible, with the July 2022 interagency MOU, including the areas identified for coordination. We would also recommend language that assures long-term sustainability for funding and capacity, as well as a federal family approach not driven by any one agency but rather managed equally between Departments. DOI also recommends that all the land and water management agencies currently participating in FICOR be included in the proposed legislation, including by acknowledging that the definitions referenced in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act do not apply to all the agencies currently participating and referenced in the FICOR MOU. Chairman Tiffany, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.