Rural System's

Nature Folks


1. Join and support Nature Folks.
2. Develop the ownership for members and chapters.

Information and Diagnoses

Nature Folks is an independent, private, for-profit organization that allows people new opportunities to learn about nature and the rural lands, especially the wildlands. Its objectives are to encourage study of nature and natural resources, to provide pleasant opportunities to learn and contribute to knowledge about the region, and to help achieve the objectives of Rural System. It has no voting membership. It provides an organization, supplies, equipment, materials, opportunities, and services to its members.

The intent of the group is to help people who love nature and who study it. Nature study is usually a very private, personal activity but occasionally it needs help, encouragement, or support. Many studies result in people gaining world-class knowledge, a wonderful resource that may even be shared or passed on to future generations. A site noted by Prof. Donald Orth of Virginia Tech: notably:

“Direct knowledge of organisms — what they are, where they live, what they eat, why they behave the way they do, how they die — remains vital to science and society. The best algorithms in the world will fail to guide our action accurately if they are not based on a firm understanding of what is out there and what it’s up to."

Nature Folks is neither an environmental or ecological "activist" nor a "fund-raising" group. It takes no "stand" and is not a political group. There are many other organizations available to meet these needs. In a related way, however, knowledge of a region can serve well in encouraging sound regional development, high quality of life, and diverse recreational and educational opportunities. Undoubtedly, contacts will be made through Nature Folks with people of similar interests in proposed development projects within the region. The group affiliates with local museums, the North American Association for Environmental Education, and other enterprises.

Nature Folks was created for people who do not already have major groups with which they can affiliate (such as the bird watchers, fishing, or hunting groups). Perhaps there are groups that do not now meet their needs. It is especially for people often not having special interest or enthusiasm, but who are generally interested in local nature, the outdoors, and the working of natural things. It is for individuals, but corporate or organizational involvement in special projects is welcomed and encouraged.(Suggestions are available.)

It provides access and opportunities at relatively low cost to:

  1. Support and encouragement
  2. Some services (e.g., exact site location from a GPS Unit)
  3. Leads to references
  4. Scientific reports and report writing assistance
  5. Safety and outdoor health advice
  6. Leads to potential cooperators in nature related projects
  7. Interesting meetings, tours, and trips
  8. Advice on needed studies and important specialty areas (a priority system)
  9. Access to an important study area where coordination and cooperation can have synergistic results
  10. Targets for highly effective volunteer work and contributions
  11. A unique trust and bequest program of current as well as lasting significance
  12. Hours of fun
  13. Limited regional part-time employment opportunities
  14. Many opportunities to encourage youth to study rural ecology and for them to move into leadership within natural resource fields
  15. A means to preserve and pass on knowledge so we stop reinventing and rediscovering
  16. A list of nature-related consultants
  17. Unique hikes and tours
  18. Access to extended nature study expeditions within the region
  19. Sponsorship of unusual nature contests and games
  20. Sales of nature equipment
  21. Reduced membership fees to other nature groups
  22. Information about and unusual prices on outdoor equipment
  23. Opportunities to publish (See the Writers' Camps)
  24. Ever-changing opportunities on the Internet and World Wide Web.
  25. Access to unusual data bases and software
  26. Access to opportunities for meaningful, healthful, volunteer work
  27. Access to events combining knowledge of nature and high adventure
  28. Membership-limited photographic sites for special nature phenomena and events
  29. Unique access to unique nature (high canopy; caves; lakes)
  30. Access to an automated nature center
  31. Access to research of lasting importance
  32. Assistance to deserving graduate students and researchers
  33. Intensive education programs for summer camp nature instructors/counselors
  34. Cooperative 4-H, scouting, and related programs
  35. A unique court program for law breakers
  36. A unique old-growth/ancient forest analysis
  37. Horseback tours into bear country
  38. "Owl hoots," high adventure owl-related tours (see The Owls Group)
  39. Tours to observe endangered woodpeckers

There are many activities of the Nature Folks. There is an on-going communication of members by means of the Internet newsletter, Ooze. Publications and notes are made available. A museum is supported. Four field trips or tours, seasonal, are held. Occasional long expeditions are held. A variety of volunteer opportunities are made available. A portion of membership fees supports special study projects and involvement in planned, funded projects. Encouraging high quality wildland research is one mission.

Weatherfolks might develop.

Conserving observations of nature is an activity already being developed within our NatureSeen, an Internet site for members.

Improvements in the Rural Knowledge Base are a special area of work and interest.

Specialized study and promotion of diverse interest in crayfish (crawdads or crawfish) may be encouraged as a special project and may be fundamental to resource development and protection. Localized work based on that of Robert J. DiStefano may be possible. (For example, work with Bob DiStefano of Missouri's non-cave dwelling crayfish program may be developed.) (Relations may be formed with Nature Seen, The Raccoon Group, and the Aquarium Group as well as throughout The Fishery.

Nature Folks is a diverse group. Some people prefer solitary work and enjoy the newsletter and web site. Others prefer more group-oriented work and social activities. Neither is emphasized over others and, in general, a "participant pays" policy operates. It is for everyone. There are no gender, age, race, nationality, or place-of-residence limits. The initial emphasis is on the region's rural wild lands and on their active, diverse, creative and non-destructive uses. There are literally thousands of potential topics of interest to members of Nature Folks. They are likely to change as knowledge is gained about them, as interests wane, as resources become available or are lost. Rather than name topics, broad interest or emphasis groups have been formed.

They are:

The Species People: Concentrates on one or two species of plants or animals, or soil types.

The Time People: Concentrates on phenology, the study of the change in biological events over the year (the migration of geese, the fall of leaves, the blooming of daffodils) throughout Virginia and the region. The BirdCast web site may provide a suggestion for a format for members to use to follow migrations.

Kirsten de Beurs (Va Tech Geography) will be offering a course spring (2008) on Remote Sensing and Phenology.
The Place People: Find their greatest interest in unusual exciting places - bogs, ponds, seeps, forest stands, fern beds, caves, mines, talus slopes, cliffs.

Lights over funnels may be used to extract the microarthropods from the forest soil layer
The Layer People: Concentrate on the variety of interesting life in wildland layers, the neritic zone, deep ponds, pond surface, ground surface, the forest layers, even the zone above forests.

The Hyperspace People: Tend to go for it all, all of the above - and more - their interests are multidimensional, unlimited.

The year-around life cycles of invertebrates are essential knowledge for the stream ecologists of The Fishery, those interested in bats (the nighttime workers of The Owls Group), and the migratory forest birds as part of Avi. People interested in the coyote, foxes, and canids of the world join the subgroup called Coyote. New knowledge about the lives of invertebrates will flow from the Butterfly Band because of the capabilities and resources of the GIS of System Central. The Wildland Walkers are hikers who are interested in walking to see nature but also the practical aspects of woodcraft and wildland lore. The interests of The Plant People are unusually diverse. The enterprise is a membership, tour, visitor, publication, survey, museum, garden-interest, and photograph sales group. Its "profit-role" is in loss reduction and cost-effective services not available elsewhere.

A list of topics that members typically embrace may cause some people to reject the group and it may suggest priorities or emphases. Neither is intended. A list, nevertheless, may suggest the types of interests of members and study groups and themes for field trips. The people of Nature Folks are unusual. They are typically roaming off the beaten track and their topics (again, only suggestions of the scope and range of interests) are likely to include, for example only:
  1. The Minnows of Stream X.
  2. The Insects of the Oak Canopy
  3. Millipedes of the Area
  4. Land Snails: Where Do They Live?
  5. Horsehair Worms
  6. Aquarium Non-Cave Crayfish
  7. Succession in Artificial Peat Bogs
  8. The Ferns
  9. The Mushrooms of the Region
  10. The Shelf Fungi
  11. The Growing Season and Heating-Degree Days
  12. The Fire History of Area Z
  13. The Geological Differences in Area A and Area B
  14. Lunar Forces
  15. Lightning in the Wildlands

One project in which all members are encouraged to participate (there are few) is the Seasons Project, keeping a long-term record of when certain biological events occur (e.g., bird migration, flower bloom, leaf fall) and how they differ year to year. A web chatroom assists in maintaining continuing interest in the flow of the seasons across the US. This group's interest is akin to naturalists' of Britain interest in phenology.

Funding is anticipated through:

  1. Memberships with newsletter (with advertising)
  2. Access to the Internet and advertising or sponsorships
  3. Software sales
  4. Publication sales (by cooperative work, Nature Folks creates never-seen-before maps of actual or probable occurrences of biological phenomena in the region.
  5. Sales of playing-card size identification aids and games
  6. Tours (see The Tours Group; U.S. and international)
  7. Guided treks (see The Wildland Walkers)
  8. Rebates from publishers and equipment sales
  9. Sales of library searches (see the Rural Knowledge Base)
  10. Catalog sales of nature supplies and equipment
  11. Honoraria (trails, plaques, Memorials

Funds are also gained from fees to use lands within Rural System and elsewhere. Although there are thousands of acres of "free" federal and state lands for recreation, these lands and their recreational resources are perceived to be inadequately managed. Experimental programs were begun in 1998 to charge fees for use of federal lands. The problem reported was that current systems of financing public lands through taxes has "led to poor maintenance, excessive spending and neglect of natural resources." Because the current system relies on congressional appropriations, park and forest managers must cater to Washington politics. Recreation fees seem needed to help institute yearly maintenance programs and restore degrading facilities and natural resources. The report from the study observed that the current financing system of charging "below-cost fees" prevents private businesses such as Rural System from providing outdoor recreation because they have trouble competing economically with federal agencies.

An invitation - I hope you will be interested. We have a special place where your photos and files can be placed, a community calendar is available, planned trips are listed, and we offer other utilities. See and

The following is sample text for potential development purposes. It was sent to us on Nov 10, 2003:

The Naturalist's Connection of Texas - a mailing list community for people who enjoy the plants and animals of Texas and adjoining states.

Texas and the surrounding area encompasses a wealth of natural areas and biodiversity, including deserts and prairies, marshes and ponds, and forests and woodlands. Many of us love these places and may have favorites among the things that live there (birds, herps, invertebrates, flowering plants, etc.). Usually we want to broaden what we know, whether we are birders who are curious about the frogs we've been seeing or herpers who would like to know more about the plant community in our favorite wetland. Almost all of us love to talk about wildlife and wild places.

There are specific resources, books and websites galore, on birds and mammals and reptiles and wildflowers and the rest. Finding a resource that helps integrate all these things is another story. The purpose of the Naturalist's Connection is to bring people with diverse interests and knowledge together to talk about places they love, species they've seen, and to ask questions about the parts they don't yet know about. We can help answer each other's questions and feed each other's appreciation of nature.

There are organizations with similar aims. The Texas Master Naturalist program is one. However, there does not seem to be an online community, open to any interested person, that fills this need.

Membership in this list is open to anyone with a fairly broad interest in the ecology and natural history of Texas and the surrounding areas. Subscribers may live in Fort Worth or Katmandu, as long as they stay on-topic. Members may be beginners, and we hope for a mix of those with little training or experience and those with a lot of those things. What we also hope for (and the moderator will help with, if necessary) is a friendly atmosphere where the point of the discussion is to enjoy and share.

Allen Salzberg

See the science and nature web site of the BBC

See Amphibian Web site

See weekly mammals blog of Dr. Jim Ryan, Biology Department, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456

Contact Valerie Cowden, Blue Ridge Discovery Center, 253 Little Bighorn Lane, Independence, VA 24348

Advertising may emerge for items such as:

English version,Limited Edition
14.8 x 21 cm; 320 pages,16 color plates,160 images
Price: $ 76 plus shipping;Buy on line
Jorge Barrett Viedma,Editor, Naturalia
Scientific Collection;


A Potential Contribution to the Southern Appalachian Oak Communities Hypertext Encyclopedia

Submitted by R.H. Giles, 540-552-8672 or


Previous text suggest removal:The following management guidelines were taken directly from Robert Giles website, "Lasting Forests".

Rather than describing community or system level work with wild mammals, this section presumes that the landowner or some person has a species of great interest and wants to keep it at present levels of abundance or to change that abundance. We have not include the many secondary and related benefits, buth financial and others, that can be derived from the wild faunal resource. Often wildlife management or faunal system management is seen as a way to get more animals (as in game management or rare-species management) but it also includes stabilizing populations (such as those of great interest but having potental as a pest) as well as decreasing them (such as when they become pests).

Poaching remains a serious problem, especially for certain species in small areas. It includes illegally taking game animals but now includes taking animals for their body parts (e.g., bear paws and gall bladders for sale for use in Asian medicinal practice and trophy heads). Monitoring, preventing, and supressing such activity is essential as part of a management program. In wild faunal management programs, many activities must be done simultaneously.

Herein, each species is treated as a system. There have to be objectives, the more precise the better. Measureable net human benefits is the primary expression, only rarely correlated well with population abundance or density. Information or system input is needed. We have attempted to include the" need-to-know" and exclude the "nice-to-know." Processes are fairly straight-forward but explained in some cases. Feedback is simplified here and usually means watching the population or its effects to see if the actions taken do what you want them to do but it includes actions. If the population or desired benefits do not change in the desired way, then change the tactics, the objectives, seek more information, or evaluate the monitoring procedure itself or any combination of this list. Feedforward means to keep an eye on the future and take actions now (or not) to respond to the likely change. For example, don't build a pond for animals if waterholes can easily and properly be built beside a planned logging road within a year.

Walker's Mammals of the World 6th ed. is now available.

The American Society of Mammalogists provides an incomplete but growing list of the mammals known for each state.

The Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station (WES) provides a set of habitat management guidelines for threatened and endangered species of mammals.

Snails (sources, supplied by 2015)

Illinois Natural History Survey, “Mollusks,” online at
T. Dillon, Jr., et al., “The Freshwater Gastropods of North America,” online at This is an effort to document the species in all 15 families of gastropods in North America north of Mexico. The Virginia section of the Web site is at
ETI Bioinformatics/Key to Nature Series, online at The “Marine Species Identification Portal/Molluscs” is available online at The site identifies the many species of gastropods and other mollusks (also written “molluscs”) that inhabit marine waters worldwide.
Paul D. Johnson, Freshwater Snail Biodiversity and Conservation, Pub. No. 420-630, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Blacksburg, Va., 2009; available online at
New Hampshire Public Television’s Nature Works Web site, “Squid and Octopus,” online at
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at “Snails” search results on 4/15/15 at this link (234 species). One can search by common name or scientific name of species or groups.
VDGIF, “Freshwater Mussels,” online at; and “Freshwater Mussel Restoration,”
VDGIF, “List of Native and Naturalized Fauna of Virginia—March 2012,” available online at (lists freshwater and [in part] terrestrial snails, but not marine species). Reese Voshell, Jr., A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, McDonald & Woodward, Blacksburg, Va., 2002.

Perhaps you will share ideas with Rural System staff about some of the topics above.

Revisions: December, 2009;4-4-14, 5-18-2014