Sustained forests; sustained profits

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Introduction to the RRR Program and Lasting Forests:
Action and Enterprise for the Roanoke Region

The Triple-R Program, the RRR, or Rangin' 'Round Ro'noke Program is a tourism project grounded in the premise that the tourist is almost irrelevant. It uses the analogy of football. Of course, the leather football in the center of the field is important, but the total football enterprise is very large and diverse: uniforms, the stadium, food, drink, advertising, sales, grounds, publications, fan clubs, and more. The football, itself, is essential but in the context of the total system, irrelevant. By analogy, the tourist is essential but almost irrelevant in the context of the work proposed for Lasting Forests that operates and achieves the objectives of the RRR Program.

Throughout the short history of "ecotourism ", thought and action has been on the tourist. The concept of the RRR, believed to be new, is that it is feasible to manage the total wildland resource enterprise for the good of the people living in an area; the education, entertainment, and recreation gained from visitors and sight-seers; financial gains for landowners and their land and resource managers; reduced taxes and citizen benefits...and to do this into perpetuity.

The Objective

The RRR assures profits to cooperating landowners within the region, giving them a way to unite and to improve their lands and stabilize them into perpetuity. It also seeks to increase tourists' activities (both local and visitors) and expenditures in the region. It opposes growth of government landuse agencies except for their oversight activities, and emphasizes instead, reduced taxes, increased local employment, and the long-term profit motive for the people of the region. Providing a financial incentive for maintaining the rural scenic beauty is an objective that should not be ignored.

The RRR will create and manage a practical, profitable wildland management system for Roanoke, Virginia, and its region. The evident objective is to develop fully the land and resources there, but the equally important task is to create a concept, procedures, and methods that can be transported directly to other lands and activities.

This is a management project, not a research project. Several years later (or as programs are developed) we shall develop an outstanding, planned, functional, practical research project in which all citizens can take pride. Until then, we propose to have the RRR demonstrate the usefulness of millions of public dollars already invested in gaining wildland resource management knowledge.

The RRR is a program designed and managed by a private, for-profit, land management system. Its premise is that everything in nature is related and that by working with them all as a system, human benefits can be achieved, problems reduced, and functional systems can be sustained over the long run for our children and grandchildren. The land management system and the enterprise that creates and operates it is Lasting Forests. The enterprise exists to produce maximum resource benefits for people at lowest costs. In doing so, money is "made" but environmental problems are reduced, costs are reduced, employment is increased or stabilized, and taxes more easily paid by land owners. Many other benefits are obtained, by design, from the complex relations of many types of people with the land. Lasting Forests is like a large corporation with many enterprises. Each has its name, some independence, and all work together for maximum profits and other quality of life, subject to many constraints. By "profits" we mean net discounted income that is used in diverse ways to achieve the stated objectives of the RRR. Lasting Forests operates the Program. Many of the funds needed to start the corporation, the "venture capital", are already in place in past investments of society in research, libraries, computer software, hardware, etc., and experience of staff of the Program. Some capital is still needed. As the RRR develops, more profit will be made and this will be used to enhance the operational capabilities of the enterprise, Lasting Forests, but also the rural and wildland resource potentials of the region.

Rightful skepticism needs to be faced. Why hasn't this idea come along before? If it has been attempted, why hasn't it worked? Giles wrote of "the associates" in his 1978 Wildlife Management textbook. At that time he was discussing a group of resource consultants. The concept has grown as political changes have occurred, hunting revenues decreased, land value increased, agency resources declined, and as needs increased. New laws requiring "biodiversity"; new agency policy supporting "ecosystem management"; new conferences pleading for "sustainability" - these have all created a new environment for the natural resource manager. New data, software, hardware, and discoveries are also present. There really are few new ideas; most ideas are recycled or renamed. At least, most things new are arrangements of existing things in novel ways. The RRR uses new hardware, new software, new computer models, satellite data, the web pages of the internet, advanced concepts of forestry and range management, geographic information systems, GPS satellite location for surveys, rapid assessment land measurement - all relatively new, at least when used together - and places them in the new "corporation ", Lasting Forests, that operates RRR for the citizens of the Roanoke area.

What Does the RRR Really Do? What is the Action?

All units of Lasting Forests will be employed to create, manage, and grow the RRR. System Base is a major unit working with the Program.

On cooperators' lands, separate Forests are created. These are actively managed for profits for the long run as a total system, all with biodiversity and sustained wildlife populations as fundamental management constraints and stipulations. These are total forest systems - from seedlings to value-added sales and recreational use.

With willing participants, a group sells bird houses, handicrafts, soil amendments, decomposition units, outdoor equipment, publications, software, photographs, etc.

A report-producing service becomes available, using the extensive libraries of Virginia Tech and worldwide electronic library sources.

A regional activity includes comprehensive land management for profits related to the wild turkey.

A similar activity is involved with comprehensive management of the raccoon and furbearers.

A bird-watching sport has been created. This will be the first place that this franchised, golf-course-like activity will be implemented.

A comprehensive fishery includes cooperatives and systems of diverse angling and other activities in lakes, streams, and ponds under contract.

Home of Nature Folks, an Audubon-Society-like group of people interested in many aspects of nature including specialty interests of deer, owls, coyotes and foxes, wild plants, and butterflies.

A tours group provides local, regional, and international wildlife- and nature-related tours.

A hiking and outdoors camping, woodcraft, and general activity group is developed with membership, contests, and levels of accomplishment.

Land under contract is developed for superior pasture. Trail rides are conducted. Grazing is used in vegetation control (avoiding some smoke management and herbicide costs.)

Writers' camps provide programs for writers, usually with an outdoor or environmental emphasis.

Opportunities are provided for wildland experience for urban people allowing healthful, meaningful work in the outdoors.

Stabilizing a "cash flow" for a single resource consultant has been nearly impossible. The needs have been great; the competition (with public agencies) excessive. Lasting Forests manages land, all of its resources, well. It seeks to sustain a profit (re-invested in itself as appropriate and dispersed to participants). It holds wildland (in all of its dimensions) as a predominant and important resource and is involved in total system management of its many resources. Not an "ecosystem" organization, its premise is that profits over 100 years cannot be sustained unless the land is very carefully managed using sophisticated programs to integrate ecology, economy, energy and other factors. Lasting Forests uses a dynamic 100-year planning period (always sliding ahead one year as each year passes).

The reasons why RRR will work are:

  1. A single enterprise, Lasting Forests, has designed and will manage the program.
  2. Enterprises are diverse, capturing different interests, ages, and seasons of use for clients.
  3. Memberships, not just activities, are promoted to assure lasting attachment to the region and RRR.
  4. Hunting and fishing are combined with other exciting outdoor sports and activities.
  5. The market audience is large and diverse.
  6. Roanoke is the region but the boundary is not fixed.
  7. Cooperatives and affiliates are encouraged.
  8. Training is provided for participants who are often from urban environments.
  9. Public lands in the region are abundant and will be used to some extent, but the emphasis of RRR is on making annual profits from diverse use of private lands (a new type of share-cropping).
  10. An existing resource base (land, structures, computers, programs, library and associated knowledge) is used.
  11. All staff and participants are incentive-driven by money and other benefits.
  12. Lasting connections are made with Virginia Tech (and select other universities) students, their families, and potential donors.
  13. System performance measures and accountability are very clear.
  14. A single, coherent modified total systems paradigm is used throughout.
  15. Intensive modeling and computer simulation and optimization are used for decision support.
  16. Geographic information systems and spatial analyses are used creatively.
  17. It conducts little research but concentrates on putting research findings into practice.
  18. All groups support and are linked to each other; there is synergism; there is no downtime; no lag in the total system; all are adapting to changing conditions.
  19. It addresses biodiversity and preservation issues.
  20. It addresses sustainability, certification, SFI initiative, and ISO 14000.
  21. It presents the public with an alternative landuse and management concept, one that is profitable and as well as noteworthy.

RRR is right for its time and right for the region. The concept will eventually be implemented somewhere. It ought to be here and now.

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Last revision January 17, 2000.