Obama's Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation off to good start

President Obama’s conservation initiative, America’s Great Outdoors took another step forward on June 13.

The President announced the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), which will promote outdoor recreation on public lands in partnership with federal, state, and tribal agencies. As a young person who enjoys getting outside—in urban parks and wild areas—I think FICOR is a great and needed concept.

FICOR will coordinate and promote recreational enjoyment for people all across the country in a variety of ways,  including improving access to wild places for people with disabilities, activating youth in more outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles, and giving all communities -- especially those in the inner cities --more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

Growing up in a rural part of central Pennsylvania, I had the good fortune of spending a great deal of time enjoying the great outdoors. Forest areas, rolling fields, lakes and mountains were literally available in my backyard to enjoy whenever I pleased. Now living in Washington, DC, I understand why having public lands easily accessible for everyone is a great mission for the FICOR alliance to work toward, seeing first-hand how easily it is to become disconnected with some of our country’s most beautiful places. No matter the location, all Americans should have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

With summer upon us, this alliance couldn’t have come at a better time. FICOR hopes to develop its website (www.recreation.gov) to be a one-stop shop for information on outdoor recreation, making it simple to visit its website to plan an outing with family or friends.

Projects such as America’s Great Outdoors are put in place to connect people to the outdoors, which in turn inspires people to care about conservation. America’s Great Outdoors is a program that has the potential to change the lives of people all across America, giving them the gift of nature whenever they want to enjoy it, just like I was able to do growing up in central Pennsylvania’s beautiful Susquehanna Valley.

America’s Great Outdoors also strives to make our government work better. And the FICOR alliance enables multiple government agencies to collaborate together. FICOR consists of the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Army, Department of Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality and will depend on close cooperation with state and local officials and with people like me.