My final day in Washington DC ended on a couple of high notes. We started out meeting longtime Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition partners American Forests, The Nature Conservancy, Society of American Foresters, and The Wilderness Society. We talked about a shared commitment to helping find a policy fix for a problem that impacts almost all RVCC members — wildfires and their increasing share of the Forest Service’s budget. Will Whelan of The Nature Conservancy does a great job of explaining the problem, and realistic solutions, in this blog. I was also interested to hear that American Forests is placing a strategic focus on whitebark pine, something that has been near and dear to us at Salmon Valley Stewardship and the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group. A conversation that surfaced about the social and economic circumstances of the rural West that we continued later in the day with White House Rural Affairs Policy Advisor Doug O’Brien.
RVCC meeting with White House Policy Advisor on Rural Affairs, Doug O’Brien.
I was pleased to join some of RVCC’s most promising talent at this meeting. Becca Shively is an intern working with RVCC, Rachel Plawecki is our program associate, and Emily Troisi works with our partners at the Fire Adapted Communities Network. Rural Affairs are dramatically different throughout the country, and the dominance of public lands and the influence of factors like wildfire distinguish RVCC communities. We talked about the possibility of increasing the local workforce share of public lands contracts as one strategy to reduce poverty and outmigration in the rural West. We came away with an understanding that RVCC’s bi-partisan, non-partisan, anti-partisan approach to Rural Affairs and the conservation factors that influence affairs in the Rural West is essential, and welcome.
Rachel Plawecki, Emily Troisi, Gina Knudson (chaperone) and Becca Shively at our Air BNB.
My time spent in the Nation’s Capitol (and time spent traveling to and from!) left me feeling unexpectedly optimistic. When we think of politics and the heartbeat of America’s political scene, Washington DC, we might bring to mind visions of mayhem or discourtesy. Instead, I feel proud to be affiliated with a coalition of people who have a vision of communities and environments that are alive, healthy, and productive. I feel humble and grateful to work side by side with people who are simultaneously brilliant and down to earth.
And then, of course, I feel thrilled to be back home in Salmon, my Capital City.
Click here for Day 1
Click here for Day 2
Click here for Day 3
Click here for Day 4