Toward a Healthy and Productive West — A Broad New Alliance Emerges
Greetings friends and colleagues,
Western Landowners Alliance, Family Farm Alliance, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, and Partners for Conservation have come together with a set of messages to federal officials in Washington D.C.: In a letter signed by more than 130 diverse organizations and ranches, we have identified and agreed on common-sense principles that are key to ensuring the Western United States can successfully produce and conserve our nation’s natural resources in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Embedded in the letter are six core principles that should be the cornerstone of policies coming out of Washington DC:
- Working lands, human communities and wild places are all important and interdependent. Their health must be protected and advanced together.
- Ecosystem productivity, social equity and economic well-being go hand-in-hand. Good public policy builds on and reinforces these linkages.
- Large-scale resource planning that is cross-boundary and inclusive, and science and place-based, is essential.
- Cooperative management of private and public lands is good for business, public health and species conservation. It is therefore essential that large-scale resource planning be coordinated across boundaries, inclusive, place-based and informed by science.
- Voluntary, market- and incentive-based programs provide key economic support that enables landowners to participate in conservation, diversify their operations and help keep landscapes intact.
- Hope for rural America lies in collaboration, common sense and non-partisan solutions that ensure sustainable working lands and diverse new economies.
“Often led by ranchers and farmers, place-based collaboration has evolved over the past several decades as a successful way to resolve long-standing conflicts over resource use,” said WLA’s executive director, Lesli Allison. “While there will always be issues on which we disagree, it is not the issues themselves that define our communities and our future, but the way in which we engage on them together.”
Steve Jester, executive director for Partners for Conservation agreed. “We need to work together to ensure functional landscapes and viable rural communities are the norm across the country,” he said. “Collaboration should be the first choice when addressing hard issues with multiple private and public stakeholders.”
Karen Hardigg, director of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition underscored that policy makers have an essential role to play. “Congress and the Administration can spark rural prosperity by investing in solutions that revitalize communities and create jobs through land stewardship,” she said.
The organizations are encouraging elected and appointed federal officials to listen directly to the people who live and work in the rural landscapes of the West and who are finding positive, collaborative paths toward a productive and healthy West.
Our joint Op-Ed, Strength in Numbers, was published in The Daily Yonder on October 23, 2017.
In addition, the Desert News, based out of Utah, also published both an article and an editorial endorsement on this collaborative initiative:
- Diverse Group Urges Cooperation in Divisive Western Lands Debate, by Amy Joi O’Donoghue — Oct. 11, 2017
- In Our Opinion: We Support Coalition Efforts in Western Lands Debate, by Deseret News Editorial Board — Oct. 13, 2017
Take a look at the updated document below to see the full list of signatories. As a next step, we envision a subsequent document that includes recommendations under each principle, based on your suggestions.
This and other, similar initiatives provide a clear demonstration that organizations and rural communities are collaboratively working together on solutions that benefit economies and the land. Thank you for showing your commitment by adding your group’s name to this document.
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