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BY KEVIN CHESLEY, Bureau of Land Management, Division of Recreation
Through a presidential proclamation, the past two presidents and President Obama have acknowledged June as Great Outdoors Month. Several scheduled events across the country, such as National Get Outdoors Day, National Trails Day, National Marina Day, National Fishing and Boating Week, and the Great American Backyard Campout, provide a platform to connect youth and non-traditional visitors to the great outdoors.
In February 2011, the president launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to develop a 21st-century conservation and recreation agenda. The initiative called for the establishment of a Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation to support access and opportunities for outdoor recreation on federal public lands and waters. FICOR agencies include: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service.
With current economic recovery measures underway, the federal government is placing increased emphasis on enhancing both international and domestic tourism throughout the U.S. The abundance of public lands and waters and the variety of outdoor recreational opportunities across the country are key attractions for visitors.
According the U.S. Travel Association, the travel and tourism industry is valued at approximately $700 billion dollars and supports an estimated 7.4 million American jobs.
International travelers spend an estimated $4,000 dollars per visit to the U.S. However, since 2000, overseas travel to the U.S. has increased by only one percent despite a significant increase in global travel during the same period.
On Jan. 19, 2012, the president established a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness that will explore strategies to promote visits to America’s public lands and waters and consider recommendations for expand travel and tourism opportunities in America’s rural communities. Enriching and developing outdoor recreational opportunities and access on public lands and waters is a small investment capable of producing significant returns by contributing to economic growth and creating jobs.
Over the past year, the FICOR has worked to provide a national forum for identifying public-private partnership opportunities associated with outdoor recreation and for discussing potential barriers to increased travel and tourism. FICOR outreach efforts continue with federal and state agencies, professional organizations, and diverse outdoor recreation interests.
Currently the FICOR is coordinating major enhancement efforts for www.recreation.gov, which serves as the nation’s portal for outdoor recreational activities on public lands and waters. The FICOR is also working with partners to plan a series of outreach events in June to celebrate Great Outdoors Month. For more information please visit www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov. ♦