Newly elected board member: Lynn Jungwirth

Posted by Renee Magyar on February 18, 2013

We are very excited to welcome Lynn, our longtime friend and partner, to our Board of Directors.


A community-based forestry legend in many circles, Lynn Jungwirth shared some words of wisdom with Policy Intern Patrick Kennedy in February 2013. 

Lynn Jungwirth is well-known for her innovative and comprehensive work in community-based forestry and forest stewardship policy.  After growing up in a logging town intimately connected to its surrounding landscape and witnessing the social and economic decline in the forest industry, she decided to pursue a career in natural resources management. Lynn was integral in the creation of RVCC, has over 20 years of experience in the field, and continues to champion the causes of natural resource-based communities and forest restoration practices.

Lynn was the founding Executive Director of the Watershed Research & Training Center in Hayfork, California, and currently serves as their Senior Fellow for Policy and Development. In this interview, she shares her thoughts on the unique place-based, yet familiar style of her organization, the value of sharing lessons and ideas through RVCC, and her vision for a flexible federal agency framework.

SNW: How would you describe your organization to someone with no natural resource related experience?  (Or to a child?)

Lynn: As an organization, we work with local people in the community and learn how to keep the land healthy. By working together, we ensure the longevity of the land and maintain landscape health.

SNW: What sets your organization apart? (How do you achieve what nobody else can do?)

Lynn: We are place-based and grounded in the community. However, we also work in large networks by extracting what one learns on the ground and expanding it to a larger audience. We are therefore able to incorporate diverse local lessons at much broader levels.

SNW: What are some of your biggest accomplishments in the past year, policy or otherwise?

Lynn: Too many to list! We've made significant inroads in the state of California on biomass policy, especially as it relates to forest health. We've done a lot of community level work, as well as work with state partners.  We have seriously affected the national cohesive wildland fire strategy to build capacity at the local level, so communities can adapt to fire and help the land around them adapt as well. On a local level, we have launched a prescribed fire strategy in Trinity County and trained local crews in understanding and conducting prescribed burns. This has been a great year for providing jobs to get young people experience in natural resources management.

SNW: What are your goals for the next three to five years?

Lynn: We are going to work on expanding the tools for community forestry in more communities throughout the West, especially by developing and improving the 'hub and spoke' network. We will try to get the Forest Service involved on the local level and have them designate Trinity Forest as a community forest.  We also receive significant Forest Service contracts each year and need to meet land planning goals as well. 

SNW: What barriers are preventing you from achieving your goals?

Lynn: The biggest barrier is that there is no legal framework for local groups to work with federal land managers. We are doing 'out of the box' work and therefore have to bend the system to do things differently. We must find another way because there is no standard policy to support our work. Many of the rules we deal with were written for a former institution, and there is no legal process or framework to do things differently. The Forest Service National Partnership Office has done a lot, but now we need the land management, procurement, and acquisition side to get involved as well for planning decisions and financial arrangements. Changes in tools and policies need to be prioritized. 

SNW: If you could have 1 minute to address the President or Congress, what policies would you pitch? 

Lynn: (Three things):

1. Congress: please permanently reauthorize Stewardship Contracting.

2. Mr. President: We are ready for a rural agenda (AGO was ok), but we need the people and land relationships figured out better. Livelihoods based on recreation don't create the kind of relationship that we should have with natural resources. The practice of 'use and exploit' doesn't work for both sides. We cannot continue to demean rural; rural lands are more than just vacation destinations. So far we either exploit it or have service jobs. 

3. Some of the brightest, most courageous and energetic young people that want to live with and treat the land properly, have homes and families in our community.  We must give them the tools to provide effective land management. 

SNW: How does participating in RVCC strengthen your work, and how can the coalition help you in the future?

Lynn: RVCC does amazing things. It allows people of like minds to work together to solve big problems and share lessons for better solutions. In the policy arena, one must have a voice to make change. RVCC gives rural public lands communities a voice; essentially a megaphone and legitimacy to do collectively what none of us could do alone. RVCC needs to stay together, keep knitting together, recognize and be with each other, and stay cohesive. We'll take it from there.