Greetings from the Pacific Northwest!
Unbelievably I’m now into my 6th week working with the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC), based out of Portland. Our small team coordinates a large network of community-based partners throughout the West (80+ entities) who work at the intersection of public lands, natural resource management and economic development. They’ve traditionally provided a voice to small communities in policy discussions through trips to Washington, D.C., particularly around funding for catastrophic wildfire, collaborative forest management and restoration priorities. However, the network also facilitates peer-to-peer learning exchanges so communities and agency field offices can see how restoration work is being implemented elsewhere, what creativity and innovation is working, and what challenges still exist. My project will ultimately illuminate those opportunities and challenges and hopefully allow community groups to build on the successes of their peers on their local landscapes.
I’ve been gleaning insights and advice from leaders all over the west on what federal programs, authorities and tools people have used or tried to use to implement collaboratively-development restoration projects. I’ve also been able to join the RVCC leadership team on their Western Week fly-in to D.C. in late May, where we took meetings with the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, Congressional staff, and others to talk about our policy priorities. Twice now, I’ve also taken trips to Eastern Oregon to attend meetings and fieldtrips with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Collaborative. Those trips have been invaluable opportunities to see how co-management is happening on the ground – and how challenging it is. I’m learning so much from this experience already, and have met some truly inspiring and passionate folks in my home state of Oregon and beyond.
If you’re in my neck of the woods, come visit us! More updates to come.
June 22 Field Trip with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest collaborative, as they tour potential project sites