Written by Zander Evans
A central part of the Guild’s mission is to promote ecologically, economically, and socially responsible land stewardship. Policy at the federal, state, or local level is often the most effective tool. In the world of policy, the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC) is essential for the Guild to stay on top of important issues and make our voice heard. RVCC is committed to finding and promoting solutions through collaborative, place-based work that recognizes the inextricable link between the long-term health of the land and the well-being of rural communities. Their mission is well aligned with the Guild’s.
RVCC staff and the like-minded organizations that make up the coalition, work together to stay informed on policy and share insights on federal, state, and even some local-level issues. Carefully constructed RVCC policy statements and sign-on letters give the Guild a chance to raise our voice on issues that matter to us. For example, a recent RVCC letter to the US Forest Service called attention to the importance of community driven, collaboratively developed solutions in the context of proposed changes to the Roadless Rule in Alaska. Similarly, RVCC provided useful comments on the proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In addition to policy, RVCC plays and important role in sharing best practices across organizations in our field. For example, the Guild’s Southwest Director, Matt Piccarello, participated in a peer learning exchange focused on forest workforces and community-based organizations. Twenty-one participants from 11 organizations and five states took part in the event to identify actionable policy and practice improvements, and enhance connections among entities with similar issues. Another recent RVCC publication highlights some of the Guild’s work on fostering the next generation of forest stewards. The publication titled, Working Together to Increase the Pace and Scale of Prescribed Fire, described how the Guild and partners used a variety of mechanisms to align organizational goals, build trust across agencies and organizations, and combine resources and skills, which ultimately resulted in the trained personnel needed to work across all lands in New Mexico.
The Guild’s participation in RVCC is complimented by our Membership and Policy Council (MPC), which is the conduit for member input on policy. MPC deliberations help clarify issues, guide the Guild, and can provide feedback to networks like RVCC. Currently the MPC’s ideas and cautions are helping to inform another policy network the Guild is part of called the Forest-Climate Working Group.
Its critical to have policy and collaboration top of mind and in the toolbox, along with our science, boots-on-the-ground management, and all the other disciplines that contribute to effective land stewardship. We are honored to partner with RVCC.