American Forests’ employees and representatives from rural communities hold a strategy session during the 2010 RVCC Western Week in Washington. Credit: SUSTAINABLE NORTHWEST

American Forests helps citizens and community groups participate in the forest policy process, especially at the national level. We serve as a “bridge group” by providing policy information to local partners and helping to bring their voices to forest policy discussions. By working with these partners to share information openly with a broad range of interest groups, we also hope to demonstrate a process based on mutual respect and collaboration. Our local partners bring practical knowledge and new perspectives to each issue, and a commitment to seeking solutions, all of which have been welcomed by federal agencies, Congress, and advocates for a range of causes and positions.

We base our policy work on the belief that policy discussions result in the best solutions only when everyone’s voice can be heard. Unfortunately, in recent years, many forest policy issues have become hotly contested and, as a consequence, few decisions have been reached concerning our federal forests.

This lack of active management has had a marked negative affect on the health of forest ecosystems, and on the rural and urban communities that rely on them for their own environmental, social, and economic well-being. We believe that better solutions to policy issues can be found through collaborative processes, where people from different sides of the issue agree to sit down together and share knowledge and best practices, instead of competing with one another.

Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC)

Community-based conservation has affected participants from grassroots organizers in their tiny towns to federal bureaucrats in DC. They have emerged with a new ethic that demands working as partners and adapting to change together. —Jane Braxton Little

Coalition for Eastern Forests and Communities (CEFC)