Sustained forests; sustained profits

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R. H. Giles: A Personal Perspective

"Wildlands" to me are almost "all of the outdoors" but almost everyone knows what we mean by wildlands - "the forest, fields, and templed hills." As a native Virginian, I have worked in the state and its wildlands for over 35 years. After a degree as a forester and Master of Science degree as a wildlife biologist, I worked actively with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (then "The Commission") for 4 years as a biologist out of Covington, Virginia. I have taught and done research at Virginia Tech for 30 years, all related to Virginia's wildlife resources. I created the woodland resource management system of TVA once used on 300 farms a year. With staff and students, I created the first wildlife information base (BOVA). I created a GIS of the State starting with a student's thesis in 1969 (before the activity of computer mapping was called GIS). I started the Powell River Project in southwestern Virginia and worked in planning for the coalfield for over 8 years. As a Roanoke County landowner, former chairman of the Blacksburg planning commission, consultant to the National Wildlife Refuge System, consultant for Wintergreen, and aid to the legal staff of the State Corporation Commission (powerlines impacts) I can bring knowledge and experience to Lasting Forests.

A Certified Wildlife Biologist, I've taught graduate level wildlife resource management courses for years, both at Virginia Tech and the University of Idaho. My list of publications on wildlife and related topics exceeds 200, including two "principles" wildlife textbooks and a techniques manual. I have taught practical resource management for years. Failing (as I perceive it) to get into practice most of our excellent students' ideas and discoveries (and those of others), I have prepared the enclosed materials on Lasting Forests.

I am now convinced that a superior demonstration of modern land use and natural resource management is badly needed and is now possible. I do not want to do research; I want to use research to demonstrate the results of literally millions of dollars of un-used findings.

I view wildland resource management largely as "decision making" and it would be silly to ignore a powerful decision-making tool, the computer. I propose to bring all the power of the computer that I can to realistic and relevant use on the area. This will include much of that power already achieved by investments of state and federal agencies (and taxpayers). Work with Lasting Forests will allow me to pull the resources available into practice. Because I argue for a general systems approach, many of the systems can then be used at no extra cost throughout the area.

I retired from Virginia Tech in June, 1998, and continue to teach part-time, move my materials to a web-site, and work to create superior wildland resource systems.

I am very aware that the organizers of Lasting Forests, citizens, and potential benefactors have different objectives. Subject to the law, I propose to create systems that achieve such objectives, subject to reasonable issues of cost, propriety, and community acceptance. The "bottom line" of this letter and for the systems that I propose to design is that the lands of the ownership should be ecologically sound, at least financially "break-even" over the long-term (but more than that with a new paradigm of responsible management), more profitable than under conventional land use, and rich with wildland resources and outdoor opportunities for people for healthful living. We can create such systems, but they are more complex than once thought. The work will be challenging, but well worth the effort.

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Last revision January 17, 2000.