The RVCC prides itself on being an inclusive movement that seeks common ground between diverse interests. The coalition is currently comprised of more than 80 nonprofit, public, and private organizations. Our partners include rural community advocates, regional and national conservation organizations, environmentalists, business owners, federal and state land managers, researchers, county and state government, and foundations. The RVCC is led by the Leadership Team, a group of organizations and individuals invested in the Coalition’s long-term success. 

Sustainable Northwest developed the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition in 2001, and organized its efforts for 10 years, distributing information on policy developments, raising funds, and supporting the participation of our members. As of 2015, Wallowa Resources has assumed sponsorship of RVCC, employing an executive director, program manager, communications specialist, and part-time program assistant.


Our approach is to strengthen and empower the voices of rural leaders on issues such as collaborative all-lands stewardship, renewable energy, climate change, and local workforce development. By bringing rural leaders together to share their work, we serve as a vital peer learning and capacity building network that accelerates the practice of land stewardship and aligned economic development.

We have worked together to successfully make a difference on many of the issues that affect rural communities, public and private land management, and the continuation of a natural resource-based economy in the West.  We have been leaders in supporting policy and legislation including stewardship contracting, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, and the Community Wood Energy Program, among others, advocating for the inclusion of comprehensive community interests.


RVCC envisions healthy landscapes and vibrant rural communities across the American West. 

Interdependence – The health of our rural communities and landscapes are interdependent. Policy solutions must not sacrifice one to advance the other.

Resilience and Diversity – Resilience and diversity are the key components that provide for both ecosystem productivity, social equity and economic well-being.

Sustainability – Long-term resource, food and energy security is dependent on re-investment in the sustainability of ecosystems and rural economies.

Collaborative Solutions – Collaboration relies on an inclusive process that is respectful of diverse interests, and creates durable solutions based on mutual benefit and positive action


The coalition maintains three core goals focused on Policy, Storytelling, and Learning:

  1. Create and improve ecologically responsible and economically equitable natural resource policies that advance rural community vitality through land stewardship.

  2. Establish and grow the visibility of collaborative, community based natural resource management to increase trust in RVCC and build the middle.

  3. Facilitate learning among community based practitioners and institutional entrepreneurs to increase innovation and implementation of land stewardship projects.

Why the RVCC is Unique

The RVCC is a multi-issue, multi-state coalition of organizations working together to address both short and long-term policy barriers. Therefore the RVCC is committed to:

  • Changing what the national policy dialogue is about, and to actually changing federal policies.

  • Working together collaboratively.

  • Promoting long-term solutions that are politically, socially, and economically durable.

  • Making good things happen on the land and in rural communities.

  • Adapting our processes and positions as we learn and share with others, within and from outside of the coalition.

  • Seeking change incrementally, systematically and through the overhaul of broken systems.

Top photo credit: Bob Christensen

Staff directory


karen hardigg, DIRECTOR

Karen has served as Director of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition since 2015. Before joining Wallowa Resources, she spent nearly eight years working in Southeast Alaska on community forestry, forest stewardship, restoration and policy both at The Wilderness Society and The Nature Conservancy. She holds a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. A Portland native, Karen is passionate about the outdoors and finding solutions to challenging natural resource management problems.

Contact: karen@wallowaresources.org, (541) 426-8053 x 24


TYSON BERTONe-RIGGS, Program Manager

Tyson grew up in Western Oregon and earned a dual B.A. in geography and political science from the University of Oregon in 2004. After graduation he moved to Washington DC to work as an intern, and later press assistant, for a US Senator. Although a rewarding experience, the landscapes of the West called him back, resulting in almost a decade of work in natural resources across the West. Desiring a return home to Oregon and re-engagement with policy, Tyson earned a Master's degree from Oregon State University in 2016 with a focus on federal land management policy and social science. He has since worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry in the new Federal Forest Restoration Program, utilizing new authorities and working with forest collaboratives in Central and Eastern Oregon.

Contact: tyson@wallowaresources.org, (541) 426-8053 x 49


Jessica Sabine Brothers, Communications Coordinator

After receiving her B.S. in Media, Journalism, and Film at Missouri State University, Jessica Sabine moved to Oregon and began her career as a multi-media communicator and designer. For six years, she worked building stronger regional food systems helping farmers, small business owners, and regional suppliers share their stories and market their goods in the Willamette Valley. More recently, she worked with a range of state and federal partners throughout six western states, including the Department of Corrections, coordinating the production of native plant seedlings and vocational training opportunities with incarcerated adults for priority habitat management areas.  In her communications role with RVCC, Jessica Sabine engages with a diverse range of community practitioners supporting place-based storytelling, humanizing shared experiences across landscapes, and promoting a collective policy platform that supports our vibrant, rural communities.

Contact: jsabine@wallowaresources.org


Sally Bernstein, Program Associate

Sally joined the RVCC team after spending two years with Sustainable Northwest. She moved to Portland in 2010 from Boston to attend Lewis & Clark College, where she earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies. After graduation, she worked as a baker and spent her free time rock climbing and hiking with her dog, Ziggy. She recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Energy Policy & Management, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning at Portland State University. Her graduate studies focus on environmental planning and policy in the West.

Contact: sally@wallowaresources.org