After 2 days of traveling, the real work in Washington DC begins. The “real work” actually started back in December at Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition‘s Annual Meeting in Portland. There people from around the West described the ecological and economic challenges we face in rural communities, and the common sense, common ground conservation approaches that have proven to work.
Karen Hardigg, Rachel Plawecki and Gina Knudson of Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition at White House South Lawn.
Since that time, we’ve narrowed our focus to 3 main issues: collaboration, an All Lands approach that works across boundaries, and wildfire resilient communities. Today, I attended meetings with fellow RVCCers and USDA Rural Development, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. In these meetings, people like myself, Gary Burnett of the Blackfoot Challenge, and Nils Christoffersen of Wallowa Resources shared stories of what some of our programs look like in our rural, public lands surrounded communities. We talk to top officials about what works, what doesn’t, and what could work better.
I think people in Washington DC get used to people coming here and just asking for money. They seem eager to talk about their ideas to make a difference. Some of us met with USDA Rural Development personnel and talked about a program that helps communities develop a recreation economy. Why not a restoration and stewardship economy? we ask. I talked about the “Restoration Means Jobs in Central Idaho” report that Rural Development helped SVS develop, and thanked them for their continued support as we’ve worked to follow up on the report’s recommendations. Projects like the Restoration Summits and the Restoration Services Directory were possible because we’re linking Rural Development’s mission with our own community’s ideas and innovations.
We also met with some real thought leaders in the Forest Service. As agencies like the Forest Service tackle problems like climate change and wildfire, the collective action by groups like Rural Voices is the only way we — as in our country we — can think in a space big enough to make a difference.
Click here for Day 1
Click here for Day 2
Click here for Day 3
Click here for Day 5