A Western and Washington Welcome

Posted by Renee Magyar on May 15, 2013

Jennifer Tucker, an RVCC participant, is in DC on business - she's helping advocate for long-term funding solutions.

RVCC participants from Idaho, with Senator Risch

Guest blog by Jennifer Tucker, a staff member of Framing Our Community, Inc. of Elk City, Idaho

The first and only time I visited Washington, D.C., prior to this week, was on an 8th grade field trip. We explored monuments and museums and took in historical sights from our Annette tour bus. Returning as an RVCC participant with Framing Our Community, Inc., I've been given the opportunity to view the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating the legislation, policies, and partnerships that make D.C. a symbol of democracy.

Yesterday's agenda included an RVCC strategy meeting, discussion with Energy and Commerce Committee counsel, and meetings with Congressional legislative assistants. Some of the core messages and issues discussed throughout the day were increasing community-based natural resource management, support for woody biomass utilization, and stewardship contracting reauthorization.

One topic that came up in almost all of the meetings I attended yesterday is the need for some sort of long-term policy solution to replace the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS). RVCC is concerned about the future of counties that rely heavily on SRS funding to remain solvent. Framing Our Community, Inc. is located in such a county. Idaho County received nearly half of its $23 million 2012 budget from SRS and approximately 85% of the county is made up of publicly owned lands. The loss of SRS without a program to replace it leaves many rural and low income counties with uncertain futures. RVCC supports finding a long term solution to county payments to provide funds for counties with large public land bases.

I look forward to continuing my Western Week in Washington by learning more about creative ideas and solutions to replace or reauthorize the SRS and advocating for RVCC?s message of collaboration, community-based management, and social and ecological balance.