Sustained forests; sustained profits

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Ranging means engaging in one or more of a diverse set of extended, dispersed outdoor or rural activities for health, recreation, study, appreciation, and adventure. It may also mean the enterprises that are related and that promote, support, and supply these activities and the areas and resources used. It includes (but is not limited to) is a new concept combining ecotourism, sight-seeing, nature tourism, hiking, adventure hikes, and informal outdoor recreation, tramping, camping, climbing, biking, trail riding, hunting, fishing, boating, touring, studying nature, and watching wildlife. There is nothing special about a word like ranging unless it can help make sense and provide structure to the confusing array of inconsistent writing and work in the expansive areas of outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and related words and phrases.

Underlying past work and thought within the area symbolized by these words has been the influence of agency work on large and small public areas, federal and state funding, foundation support, and enormous amounts of volunteer effort and time spent. There is surrounding business activity such as for clothing and equipment. Proponents of "outdoor recreation" and its economic impacts list supportive fields and count as their full contribution the production of income from matches to motors, beer to binoculars.

Changes in economics, agencies, and policies in the US, indeed the world, have suggested that alternative strategies about outdoor recreation and use opportunities may be worth discussing. Such discussions may be necessary. Current conditions suggest reduced tax support for resource agencies, loss of experienced staff, reduced staffs, increasing environmental problems for which there are no apparent solutions and only long-term maintenance costs, new public awareness (but poorly informed) about dependence upon a healthful environment, and new demands for "cleaning up" after past misdeeds. There are increasing urban populations, most having little understanding of rural conditions, practices, relevant periods of growth or change, or limitations.

There must evolve efforts to resolve such conflicts and meet the human needs that are expressed. There are needs for sophisticated modern management. Perhaps ranging is not just a bunch of activities but is or can become a dynamic system that can be analyzed, designed, operated, and maintained for the long run ("sustained"). "For the good of the environment" or "for the good of the animals" are essential concepts, but foremost is "for the good of people." When a system is designed and operated for the good of people into perpetuity, then all of nature must be included and tended with great care to assure that the desired future conditions occur.

Within Lasting Forests is proposed a complex, diverse business associated with ranging and there are principles of businesses closely related that can be derived from nature, ecological concepts, and resource management system concepts. The Nature of Business will soon be available. Written by Robert H. Giles, Jr., it attempts to unify these concepts and the needs for people in the business world, especially for those who need to succeed within ranging. Ranging is large and complicated, the right size for the large, wicked problems faced by most of the forested regions and wildlands of the mid-Atlantic states for the near future.

A part of Lasting Forests promotes uses of all of the lands, works with tourist groups, concentrates on appropriate web sites and advertising, and develops a variety of programs and activities throughout the year for a variety of people who see themselves now as nature tourists, engaged in international ecotourism, or who are local sightseers. It maintains interest and enthusiasm for local people as well as attempting to make the local resources known to potential visitors and related local financial gains. Few direct profits are made. The group seeks to attract tourists to a rich, varied resource base and to the other units of Lasting Forests. It creates a system that produces money for investors and landowners from the massive tourists' market. Various programs and projects are sponsored to "promote" the region and its use for ranging.

Recreational tourism may be Virginia's largest industry and was said to generate $11.2 billion in 1997. Travelers bring in 38 times more income to a region than logging and create 31 times more jobs.(See other notes under The Tours Group.) While timber harvesting and intensive use of the forests has been declining, tourism in the national forests (as representing the interest in wildland recreation of all types) was mushrooming. In 1997, the national forests hosted about 800 million recreation visits, three times the number of visitors who went to national parks. Unlike Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and other well-known gems of the national park system, the natural wonders of the national forests receive comparatively little publicity. But over the decades a vast backcountry system has sprung up in the forests that includes more than 60 percent of the wilderness areas in the contiguous 48 states and some 130,000 miles of trails used by hikers, hunters, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers. Forest Service professionals, who until recent years were mostly road engineers and silviculturalists who managed the forests for wood production, also now market the attractions of the national forests and help tourists map out trips. The Forest Service established a national campground reservation system and toll-free number in 1989 that now covers 900 campgrounds. The single largest user of national forests is so-called drive-by tourists, who cruise through the woods-and now outnumber logging vehicles on Forest Service roads by more than 100 to 1. A big draw for tourists is the Forest Service's scenic byways, the first of which was not Designated until 1988. All told, the service now oversees 136 scenic byways, covering more than 9,000 miles. These people may relate well to the concepts presented with The 4x4 Group. Of course, the above are national statistics but they represent what we believe is a trend under the present economic and energetic conditions.

Recentlt fees have been collected experimentally within national parks and forests. About 30 percent of all the fees collected is spent on collecting the fees, the GAO said. While park visitors typically expect to pay a fee, new fees in forests provoked heated opposition (1999).

Lasting Forests proposes to use the land resources of cooperators as in an association or share-cropping mode. It gains funds from such use, and creates a working system. The landowner shares in the net income, annually (unlike the income after the long wait in much forest work). This is not a "blue chip" operation but it is after financial gains.

See also the BBC news note.

Ms. Alisa Bailey is the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Tourism Corporation (2003). As a statewide organization, VETA's purpose is three-fold: to protect Virginia's natural resources; to develop, promote and market professional ecotourism industry in Virginia; and to promote safe, quality experiences for ecotravelers.

Estimated first year expenditures..$50,000

Estimated 5th year profits...... $60,000

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Last revision June 17, 2003.