Southern Appalachian RC&D FAC CoalitionMaking things happen for the Appalachian Mountains
What is RC&D?
The Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Program was created in the Agricultural Act of 1962 to assist local people in planning and carrying out activities that conserve natural resources, support economic development, enhance the environment, and improve the standard of living for all citizens. All programs and assistance of the RC&D Council are available without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status.
About the RC&D Program
RC&D Councils are 501(C)3 not-for-profit corporations. They are not governmental entities, so the typical policies and constraints of local, state, and federal government programs do not limit the types of issues they address or the means they use for economic development in their work areas. RC&D Councils have a high degree of independence to carry out activities that will achieve their most important goals. RC&D Council volunteers are leaders and community stakeholders involved in multiple roles in local government, school boards, churches, and other civic activities. These leaders identify unmet needs in their communities and create solutions that work. The folks who make up an RC&D council are neighbors. At RC&D Council meetings, they draw from their professional expertise and community connections to determine the needs of their RC&D Council areas, address those needs, and make their communities better places to live, work, and play. They know how to blend government programs with local needs to produce results. In essence, they know how to speak the government’s language, and yours. Nationwide, over 25,000 volunteers serve on local RC&D Councils. The 375 RC&D Councils are located in all 50 states, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Basin and serve a combined 85% of all US counties and 77% of the total US population.
What is the Southern Appalachian RC&D Coalition?
The intent of the Southern Appalachian RC&D Coalition is to expand the success of the Fire Adapted Communities concept up the Appalachian Mountain Chain from Georgia to Virginia to help reduce the risk of wildfire in communities in the Wildland Urban Interface most of which border National forests. The Southern Appalachian RC&D Coalition is made up of 6 RC&D Councils in Georgia (1), North Carolina (4), and Virginia (1) along the Appalachian Chain. The Southern Appalachian FAC Coalition will draw from learning processes that have been developed by the Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D council (CCRCD) in North Georgia since 2013 that has transformed Towns County in North Georgia into a Fire Adapted Community by using the FAC Fire Learning Network methods where people educate their neighbors, family, and friends as to Fire Adapted principles and practices. The Georgia FAC hub presently has three additional communities in development stages. The newly created Southern Appalachian RC&D Coalition will serve as the mechanism to spread the FAC concept to communities at risk from wildfires in this area.
RC&Ds are uniquely positioned to administer programs such as FAC since they are non-governmental organizations that are not bound by the usual red tape with most governmental programs. RC&Ds are made up of neighbors helping neighbors and communities helping communities (learning network) to improve the places where they live and work. RC&D’s have shown grassroots success for many years on a variety of issues, such as; soil and erosion 319h projects, farm energy audits, Firewise programs, soil health programs, organic farming programs, seasonal high tunnel projects, wildfire hazard assessment programs, wildfire mitigation projects, small farm conferences, no-till agriculture projects, wildlife enhancement programs and many other varied projects that help the people in the places where they live. Utilizing their strong community connections across their county footprints, RC&D Councils can put more of the funding on the ground where it can be used by having minimal layers of oversight and overhead. Working in concert with the Forest Service to match up priorities on nearby federal land, these communities can leverage actions and build joint priorities to reduce risk and enhance community and homeowner responsibility. Wildfire education is much less expensive than wildfire suppression or in the words of one of our mentors, “it’s much cheaper to prevent fires than to put them out!”
The goal of wildfire education is to demonstrate to homeowners the risks where they live, what they can do to reduce these risks, and how a simple action by one them or their neighbors can lead to a catastrophe with loss of their property and the forests nearby.
Each RC&D engaged in this project will do the following:
• Build a local coalition of interested citizens from the at risk communities where they serve
• Coordinate with the Forest Service and other federal, state, and local land managers
• Identify joint priorities for activities in areas of risk
• Do things on the ground to reduce wildfire risks
• Utilize effective communications to spread the wildfire/FAC/Firewise message to the communities about FAC
• Educate citizens as to the need for more prescribed fire to reduce wildfire risks and management needs