Rural System is a proposed for-profit corporation, a citizen-owned new cooperative of over 50 small rural and natural-resource-related enterprises. Some of the enterprises, subsystems, are new, some, classical agriculture, very old. The cooperative is a modern general system doing sophisticated, computer-aided management of the privately owned lands and waters of an eastern US region in order to sustain long-term profits and quality of life for citizens. Concentrating somewhat on outdoor recreation, specialized tourism and rural development, and wildlife and fishery management, it uses precision agriculture, fishery, and forestry, preserves some areas, and restores, enhances, and gains lasting profit production from the total rural resource base and many diverse rural-related enterprises.

The umbrella entity may use national and state lands and waters but, most importantly, it provides opportunities for the owners of private lands and waters (usually absentee owners) to experience profits related to superior land management. While managing the assets of such private lands under contract, Rural System provides related services and products from many unified business units. Half of these units work from clusters of the managed lands called Enterprise Environments or Rural Benefit Units (from about 300,000 acres of privately-owned land). A central managerial unit provides incubator-like services and allows the corporation to harvest results of public research investments, to achieve economies of scale and division of labor, add value, gain synergism, and to stabilize employment, thus local tax bases.

The enterprise leads the region in computer-aided, year-around, private land management with added business diversity. It shares funds with citizens and investors. It links citizens as well as visitors to the land and its long-term potentials for profits. It provides an alternative regional identity, one of a place for modern high-tech rural resource development and management. It links buyers and users with producers of certified forest products and resource opportunities from well-managed rural lands and waters. Successes are achieved via diligent work with personal incentives, diverse enterprises and products, and computer optimization of a total system. It affiliates with and potentiates existing enterprises. It overcomes the old failures of natural resource management, i.e., diseconomies of small-scale operations, mixed objectives, lack of diversity, seasonal work and special events, lack of area-wide annual income. It capitalizes on innovative uses of the Internet, global satellites, and computer mapping that can provide site-specific work throughout the region.

The vision for the enterprise is that its success in improving the social, economic, and environmental health of the region can allow the enterprise to become effective and expand. It invests in private land to enhance their productivity and community benefits. Thus, similar influences can be transferred, years later, throughout Virginia, then internationally. The work will be recognized as the product of a special paradigm in comprehensive rural resource management resulting in a notable departure in operations within rural areas. Advanced energy collection and conservation, wellness, and education systems complemente the work of the groups and develope their own procedures for advancing results of studies into meaningful practice. As such, Rural System may become a profitable cooperative operating well past this century, given its 150-year planning horizon sliding forward a year annually.

Chapter 1