US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke yesterday signed two secretarial orders that would increase access to public lands. One order directs different parts of the agency to create plans within 90 days that focus on expanding recreational opportunities on public waterways and lands. The order also mandates that one full-time employee will be responsible to oversee recreational opportunities.

“I have made it abundantly clear that we are going to refocus on Interior’s long-standing but recently forgotten recreation mission,” said Zinke in a statement. “The Department must continue to create opportunities to increase access for these pursuits.”

The NMMA said prioritising recreational access to public waters will “help grow outdoor recreation” to ensure that it remains “central” to the American lifestyle. Outdoor recreation accounts for 2% of US GDP, and growing faster than the US economy as a whole. NMMA president Thom Dammrich said his association and the Recreation Roundtable, comprised of different outdoor-focused industries, stands behind the Department of Interior’s new recreational priorities.

The second order also establishes a position of Senior National Advisor to the Secretary for Recreation to actively coordinate recreational policy in the US Department of the Interior. Rick May, currently a Senior Advisor to Zinke, was named to the position. May is a retired US Navy SEAL Captain and decorated veteran who served in the Iraq War. He has worked with wounded Veterans in various types of recreational activities.

“The work Rick has done in helping disabled veterans connect with the outdoors through recreation opportunities speaks for itself,” says Zinke. “As a former SEAL, he has the leadership needed to help the Department chart its course in making recreation a priority again.”

Zinke also recently selected a “Made In America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee. The committee will advise Zinke on public-private partnerships to expand access and improve infrastructure on public waters and lands.