Why RVCC is Welcome in DC

Posted by Renee Magyar on May 14, 2013

Johnny Sundstrom, member of the RVCC Core Group, shares how the coalition is making a difference through realism and solutions.


Guest blog by Johnny Sundstrom, member of the RVCC Core Group and President of the Siuslaw Institute, Deadwood, OR

As the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC) heads to Western Week in Washington this year, it's hard to ignore the political realities facing our country. At a time when Congress has a falling approval rating and our federal agencies face increasing cuts to staff and budget, it is en vogue to characterize DC politics as "highly dysfunctional", "in disarray", and even "flat-out disgusting". Certainly, partisanship is at a very high level and the vast amount of dollars spent by special interests has raised the stakes for everyone who either has a job or is seeking one inside the Beltway. It's hard to blame many of the elected and appointed officials of the Congress or the agencies for assuming a foxhole mentality, when most visitors to Capitol Hill and the Departments have their hand out for some kind of favor, are simply voicing complaints, or are demanding support for extremism.

However, in the midst of this cacophony and hyper-competitiveness, a few of the visitors show up with their hands out, but not asking to receive benefits, rewards or votes. Instead, these folks are holding out and offering carefully reasoned analyses and solutions to some of the chronic and emerging problems of governance and government. Participants in RVCC are some of these visitors. The warm welcome that this group always receives is a result of its ongoing and positive relationships with representatives on both sides of the aisle and it's work to foster proactive partnerships with many of the often misunderstood, down-sized, overworked and beleaguered representatives of the American people, particularly those serving us here in the rural West.

RVCC's analysis of problems facing landowners, rural community leaders, and agency personnel, and concrete policy suggestions for their solution is the hallmark of successful, working democracy. Our policy recommendations meet the needs of both our natural resources and the rural communities that are dependent on them here at home. That the hard work and consensus-building effort going into RVCC issue and policy papers is a welcome factor in the day-to-day clamor and frustration that pervades the nation's capital, should come as no surprise due both to its rarity and its usefulness.

This week, meeting agendas will cover a range of topics - including community-based approaches to federal forest management, ideas for improving public range management, recommendations for the farm bill, and examples of proven approaches to biomass utilization. RVCC will live up to its reputation for taking a solution-oriented approach and its ability to build agreement on difficult policy issues. We will stand apart from the naysayers and offer our vision for long-term, responsible management of our forests and rangelands - both public and private. Providing convincing and comprehensive thinking based on real-life people's needs and aspirations is exactly the kind of fresh air that is needed in Washington's contentious political climate.

Go RVCC -- Making a difference through realism and solutions!