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The Outdoors Drives Inter-Agency Coordination

It was not long ago that federal land management agencies were the only ones focused on outdoor recreation. However, virtually all federal agencies - from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Department of Veterans Affairs - are now leading on critical outdoor recreation programs. The Biden Administration has announced the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), which serves as a model for how federal agencies can coordinate to maximize their efforts, reduce unnecessary duplication, align policies, and collaborate on key programs.

FICOR is based on an Obama Administration council by the same name, and is pulling together agency leaders from across the federal government to advance outdoor recreation and collaborate among federal agencies. The entire outdoor community, including both industry and non-profit NGOs, have loudly applauded the creation of FICOR - which is currently chaired by the Director of the National Park Service, Chuck Sams. There is also a bipartisan effort underway on Capitol Hill to authorize FICOR within the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act to create some permanency for the council and, hopefully, set it on a path for long-term success.

Federal agencies across the government are leading on innovative solutions for the outdoors, including: the inclusion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, efforts to connect more veterans to public lands as part of their medical care, initiatives to create better access and experiences for people with disabilities, programs to get more kids to experience the outdoors, and public-private partnerships to help spur rural economic development. However, significant challenges are on the horizon - not the least of which includes the need for more funding for infrastructure on public lands, making the outdoors more accessible to everyone, addressing unbalanced visitation on public lands, and mitigating the threats from extreme weather to public lands and waters.

To meet these challenges (and many others), coordination among federal agencies is important. FICOR will serve as the engine for solutions within the federal government and an important venue for ideas from the outdoor community. While coordination across agencies has its own difficulties, the fact that so many government leaders have prioritized outdoor recreation and have committed to work together is an effort worth watching, participating in, and applauding.


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