Sustained forests; sustained profits

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The Owls Group

The Owls Group is a for-profit enterprise relating to all aspects of people's great interests in owls. The organization sponsors "owl trips" as a primary activity but it has a diverse set of tactics all aimed at improved, comprehensive resource management with an emphasis on a single species. The potential activities, services, and products of The Owls Group are:
  1. Travel agent services for local field trips and tours
  2. Field trips (catered, hotel, trip, observation, education, and recreational one-night "events")
  3. Photo sales
  4. Newsletter
  5. Research
  6. Photo opportunities
  7. Life list building
  8. Owl-based ecotourism (to see the owls of the world with theTours Group)
  9. Promotion of the nighttime world of nature
  10. Promoting inclusion of lunar forces in ecosystem considerations and studies
  11. Sale of night-observation equipment
  12. Publications on owls and their ecology
  13. Publications on predator-prey relations
  14. Art sales (painting, sculpture, photographs)
  15. Wilderness/remote area camping expeditions with owls as a major goal
  16. Sale or rent of "calling" equipment Web-page interactions for members with emphasis on owl observations and timing of local events (phenology)
  17. Food habit studies (leading to automated analyses)
  18. Interaction with the Wildland Knowledge Base
  19. Sale of screech-owl nesting boxes (Products Group)
  20. Service (installation and maintenance) of owl boxes
  21. Sale of management plans for owls
  22. Foundation support and memorials (see Memorials)
A trip might, for example, would include a meal for thirty clients gathered at a hotel like Mountain Lake or the Hotel Roanoke. After introductions and a dinner, they would hear a brief talk and see slides of owls, and afterwards board a bus. During the 50-minute bus drive, a staff member of The Owls Group describes the organization and its objectives, and gives a wonderfully-crafted lecture on the great horned owl, barred owl, and screech owl. At Stop #1, all leave the bus, walk over a trail to a quiet spot and an electronic device is played and barred owls respond (usually). Questions are answered and further information is given about the owl. At another stop (how the forests are very dark) the group huddles in the quiet and other owls are "called up"- said by some to be the thrill of a lifetime. The group moves to a campfire site, enjoys the fire, stories, and a little country music. Some play new games with GlowOwl balls. All then board the comfortable bus for the trip back to the hotel. Information on owl studies is provided on the return trip. Those wishing to do so may observe owl habitat and management activities on any daytime tour, often taken the day following the evening tour.

All includes sales, memberships, and contacts for future trips and other relations elsewhere in Nature Folks.

There are 37 species or subspecies of owls in the Western U.S., 12 (some the same) in the Eastern U.S. Sixteen species breed regularly in the U.S. The spotted owl has been at the center of land use controversies for over a decade. Great interest in owls exists around the world; some are threatened, others are abundant and are important in ecosystems. Several occur in cities. The Owls Group is a new enterprise created and devoted to gaining maximum long-term human benefits from the owl and raptor resources of the world. It also seeks to make profit from such activity. Its initial emphasis is on owls of southwestern Virginia. Its proposed activities include profitable tours, lectures, publications, computer searches, web pages, art sales, photo sales, next box sales and maintenance, habitat enhancement, habitat scoring, expert testimony and research.

The raptors, the hawks, eagles, owls and vultures, are a significant part of the wildlife resource. The Owls Group is being developed due to a belief that these birds are not being managed adequately or successfully. Certainly, their potential as an international modern resource has not been achieved. To begin to meet perceived needs and to begin to improve resource use, The Owls Group was created.

Designed as a system, the general properties and concepts for development include:

Objectives:

  1. Maximize profits from an owl-based diverse raptor resource management system.
  2. Maximize research findings (conclusions) over a long period.
  3. Minimize the time from research "discovery" to application.
  4. Improve the status of raptors in the U.S.
  5. Increase knowledge of raptor management and predator foods and feeding.
  6. Develop a comprehensive computer model representing owl abundance and dynamics within an ecosystem, dynamic over 200 years.
  7. Advance predator-prey theory, especially its application.
Inputs

The staff of the Owls Group seeks research grants to achieve some of the objectives and to support and allow achievement of the others. The funds gained are expected to pay salaries and wages for those conducting the research. Research will be in response to requests for proposals when available, but the key pathways are those discovered by comprehensive models and sensitivity analyses. A Foundation will accept money, gifts, lands, services, and equipment all directed toward the goals. Named fellowships and named properties (e.g., the A.B.C. Memorial Raptor Management Area) will be sought and utilized to meet the objectives of the program.

Processes

We propose to develop a series of activities and projects such as:

A sample request for hawk-watching volunteers :

from Jeff Smith

Subject: Raptor Migration Counters needed

RAPTOR OBSERVERS/COUNTERS (10-11 positions) needed to conduct daily, standardized migration counts in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Starting and ending dates vary by site, always between 15 August to 15 November. Applicants must provide their own high-quality, wide-angle binoculars (8-10 power), have good eyesight, be able to endure long hours in the field, and have demonstrated birding and raptor-in-flight I.D. skills. Observers will work 5 to 6 days a week in teams of 2 to 3, supplemented when possible by qualified volunteers. Most projects require camping on site and observers must supply their own camping gear; otherwise, basic housing will be provided. Most sites are in high-elevation remote areas and experience extreme weather conditions. Stipend varies with experience, $30-35/day ($900-1100/month). Send cover letter, detailed resume, 3 current references with phone numbers or e-mail addresses, and dates of availability to Science Department, HawkWatch International, Inc., 1800 S. West Temple, Suite 226, Salt Lake City, UT 84115 or email: mvekasy@hawkwatch.org.

A major web site on some of the birds of North America, the raptors..

In January, 2003, Jonathan Utin suggested night-sky studies as part of the night-time experience of people on the owl tours and developing an amateur astronomer interest project or separate unit within Nature Folks. A Research Overview for The Owls Group is available.

Estimated Development Costs........$45,000
Estimated 5th Year Annual Profits..... $90,000

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Last revision January 17, 2000.