Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

  Design Details for All Groups

 Link to the
 Business Plan Contents for other elements.

System Central

System Central is the administrative and leadership unit of Rural System, Inc. It provides the needs of each enterprise that no one of them is likely to afford alone. The unit provides office space, accounting, payrolls, insurance and benefits, legal service, deeds and records maintenance, marketing, and transportation. (Rural System, Inc. has many field units but all with irregular vehicle use. There may be some permanently assigned vehicles.). Computers are typically located with each enterprise but large systems are maintained in this unit. The Staff buys all services and supplies to achieve economies of scale.

Objectives are stressed and clarified, coordination encouraged and maintained, progress is monitored, and feedback stressed and applied.


E-business work is a mainstay and includes:

Internet Strategy

Related to the above, we provide:

Our web site(s) ( will provide major communication links among all members of Rural System, Inc. and open the gates to users, buyers, and members. It provides an e-commerce catalog, access to land, services, and products, serves several memberships within Rural System, Inc., provides a creative space for presenting ideas, but also for listening to the ideas, interests, and needs of potential customers. Much of Giles' web site may be wrapped into the site. Distance learning will be conducted from the site.

With competent work from an aggressive sales staff, this may become a major site for coordinated forestry, fisheries, wildlife, and wildland-related equipment, products, and services. It will link successful hunters and anglers, suggest "hot spots" for activities and provide "bragging space" for some outdoor users who have been very successful. It will provide links to land purchase and sales to sophisticated analyses (for the realtor as well as the potential owners) (e.g., virtual (photo) tours with services) and sets the stage for cost-effective future land management involving the diverse units of Rural System, Inc. Advertising contracts will be sought, but major efforts will be to acquire a percentage of sales resulting from orders originating from this site.

Education Strategy

Within System Central, The Behavioral Change Group, a for-profit educational space and working group may exist for youth and adults to deal with a variety of corporate interests. Youth tutoring and classes will be highlighted but adult education will be integrated with paid group activities in the area. A field museum and workshop in a high technology educational space (notes on The Didactron are available) will provide potentials for special markets.

Housing may be supplied by Dogwood Inns as well as existing facilities. The diverse outdoor events, the "get-away," the special educational efficiencies, and group-structure-building of The Wildland Crew, will appeal to many corporations. Education and training of personnel are commonplace in the field and within each unit. The Delta Educational Strategy is to develop optimal teaching-learning environments (room size, seating, color, training aids, audio-visual facilities, and optimal field plots and demonstration). The Delta strategy seeks out those optimal devices and environments, creates them, resists use of extra or sub-optimal equipment and demonstrations, and improves education facility use.

The novel criterion of the strategy is production effectiveness, i.e., maximum units of pre-specified behavioral change per dollar (or unit of energy) per hour. The strategy includes:

The Didactron facility, proposed to be developed later, is only one part of a complex, high intensity educational program, largely self-taught, to bring citizens into an advanced educational status about natural resource total systems. A key element of the program is to teach the teachers about optimal wildland conditions. There are major educational aspects to all parts of Rural System, Inc., and all employees must understand the system. The facility is often used to bring experts to improve the unit performance. A course on advanced modern wildlife resource management (Distance learning, taught by Giles in 1999, Northern Virginia Graduate Center) and "Modern Wildlife Resource Management Systems," an introductory course in wildlife resource management, are profitable activities within the group.

The Summit

System Central sponsors the Pivotal Summit at a hotel/motel in the region. It is an exclusive annual retreat for the emerging wildlands industry. Overflow attendance is provided within the Dogwood Inns. Owners, presidents and CEOs from more than 60 companies and agencies attend this annual event. The Summit provides an ideal forum for executives to gain strategic insights, to network and to relax with other industry leaders. Topics covered include the state of the global and U.S. wildlands industries and practical advice on partnerships, marketing, planning, and acquisitions.

The Consequence Strategy

At the political borderline, but not crossing it, the Consequence Strategy is developed. Within System Central,primarily the Software Group, is the capability to do high quality environmental impact analyses, thus to cut the costs to citizens of these documents and the work to produce them for public projects that are desired ... and for projects that are not desired and groups wish to fight. Under contract, Rural System, Inc. could produce best available information on the consequences of a range of projects proposed within the county

This unique ability comes from knowledge of ecological modeling and systems building and use of transition tables or ecological succession. Only presenting the best data for others to use, the enterprise does not "take stands" and is available for either (or both) side of often-difficult environmental decisions. From previous experience, the mere presence of such a system has deterred people from presenting questionable proposals that would impact a county or aprivate ownership.

System Central is responsible for the financial analyses and decisions about start-up performance and initiatives. It will contract for office space, develop a communication system and procedures related to field work, establish the transportation policies (the "motor pool"), arrange for insurance, health, and retirement, develop the contacts for efficient contract reviews and approvals, and in the first year play a major role in recruiting staff. It assures decent work. Safety programs will be implemented early, especially with staff of The Safety and Security Group. The novelty and advancement potentials of Rural System, Inc., the current recession, and looming political pressures should make it very attractive and some of the best university natural resource program graduates and agency professionals may be easily recruited.


The feedforward concept is promoted within each enterprise but collective work on estimating the future and preparing for the conditions estimated is the work of this unit. A regional credit-card system is developed for modest financial gains, shared resources, and local pride in shared activity.

The group promotes using sophisticated management techniques (operations research and systems analysis. (See the Appendix.)


This unit is primarily one on the cost side of the ledger. Some minor financial gains are expected from GIS services, products, and consulting services. Development costs are $200,000. Profits estimated at:

The Dogwood Inns

The Dogwood Inns tactic has been developed following noting the great difficulties and costs of trying to attract major lodging firms with extensive facilities into rural areas for tourists, meeting rooms, and parking lots or to develop a diverse, dispersed lodging resource. There must be abundant tourists to support abundant lodging facilities. To have abundant tourist income, there must be abundant, high quality tourist accommodations in the US. At least initially, the option of dispersed facilities seems preferable. It tends to overcome many of the undesirable aspects of unmanaged tourism. It tends to reduce the chances for the undesirable behaviors and associated industries and organizations that seem to accompany large tourists housing and service enterprises.

There are specialized needs for housing for tourists and others in the region. Rural System, Inc. can hope for and depend upon others to provide these facilities some day or it can utilize its resources and capitalize on the advantages of unifying such an operation within its framework of providing for the advantages and opportunities within the region.

Dispersed inns of different quality and services throughout the region can at first best meet the needs for its operations. Some of the existing economic problems within the region result from sales areas having been centralized (the malls) and from requiring potential customers to move to them for service at high costs and loss of time.

The Dogwood Inns component of the strategy is like that found elsewhere within this enterprise system design. Coordinated, centralized work can provide for dispersed, diversified economies. Risks can be dispersed and kept small. Owners and their families can live in their places; places can be maintained and renovated, and the inns can enhance the beauty and quality of living spaces within the county. Inns can reduce the travel time and costs to sites of interest. Of course, there have to be year around activities (outlined for the other enterprise groups) to stabilize customers, those who "fill the beds." Of course new inns may be built, justified by the appearance of visitors.

The Dogwood Inns group proposes to offer advertising and marketing, Internet connections and services, and increase occupancy rates in healthful, comfortable, low cost facilities for visitors to the county and the services and resources of Rural System, Inc. We can relate well to local restaurants as well as provide unique dining opportunities. We use the unusual concept of managing "a single motel that is widely dispersed throughout the county," one of 50 units, 1 to 3 rooms in each, or 100 beds, then dispersed over the entire region. The units are not in the same place but linked by central booking, serviced by central crews, repaired, renovated, provided insurance, provided signage and facilities and equipment from a common pool, inspected regularly and assured of meeting high health and corporate standards ... all to give the owners of fine homes (old or new) within the region an opportunity to join and become one of the Dogwood Inns.

The inns provide new income potentials for an aging population. There are almost no proposed capital investment costs incurred by the county or town governments. The type services planned will not be competitive with major hotels but may augment and assist in their marketing. The inns provide a new vitality to the real estate tax base. Linkages will be made with local establishments to provide bakery, food, and beverage services. A variety of service activities is likely to develop. Crafts and related sales seem likely associates of such facilities. Centralized laundry services will reduce stresses on rural water and sewage systems.

Special programs of the Dogwood Inns will be developed for people to "get away" for extended periods, writing (see Writers' Camps), reflecting, and recuperating from illnesses. A cooperative work-study and educational program will be arranged with students and faculty of hotel management at Virginia Tech and other university programs. These spaces will be available for local functions of all types and so advertised, but their main year-around customer base will be the customers and clients of the increasingly active Rural System, Inc.

This is a growth enterprise. In effect, we may recruit 10 owners to join and begin providing services. Existing inns may choose to become affiliated or take a leadership role. The "bottom line" is very clear: our success will be in developing year-around activities in Rural System, Inc. which will be needed to "fill beds." Having space is essential for ranging success (see the Appendix). This is a chicken-or-egg problem but one that can be solved within the first year with charter-member incentives, dispersed marketing, and minimum risk-taking on all sides. There are likely to no gains in the first two years. A meeting place for short courses, training programs, and business meetings will be needed. It seems likely that such space, perhaps with renovations, can be rented from one or more of the churches of the county as part of a "stewardship of God's creation" premise. After that, 50% occupancy of 100 units for 200 days at a mere $40 per day (grossly half of the estimated, inviting, per-day cost) produces an income for Rural System, Inc. of $400,000. Variations in units available, occupancy days, pricing, percentage of corporate income all together produce a wide range of possible financial outcomes.


Development costs are for a 3-person staff and vehicle, and miscellaneous contract costs ($420,000)

The Realtor Group

The Realtor Group is an enterprise with extensive computer mapping capabilities. Hopefully it can be developed as a project of an existing local realtor. When active, it makes available to realtors and land buyers' information about any tract of land within the region.

"To know it is to love it" may be true for land. The working hypothesis for designing and implementing this unit of Rural System, Inc. is that land will be better used and managed than it is now if people learn about it, come to appreciate it, and learn how to respect its limits and to exploit its potentials for the long-term well-being of the owner and neighbors (all of us). Beside many general public relations benefits of working with Rural System, Inc., realtors are likely to increase sales and repeat contacts, improve satisfactions for buyers, and enhance their role within the region. That's not a bad idea.

Highest and best use is a well-known real estate phrase for a building or tract of land but it skirts the questions of for what, for whom, over what period, and far into the future? It is possible to develop a computerized development advisory system for the county, one that avoids zoning issues, but addresses an idea or a proposal (e.g., a house, a factory, a road, a powerline, a dam), tests the proposal for where it fits within the county and the stated objectives of the citizens of the county, and then presents a report for decision makers. It's a system that accommodates new ideas, protects the existing structures and practices, avoids the ever-troublesome "taking-issue," helps developers find the right areas, avoids many environmental-impact controversies (and their costs), and reduces other costs to the county tax payers. It could be developed and operated for the county or developed and sold to a third-party impartial service group. The Realtor Group, when developed, will know (in its computer) almost everything about the lands of the region. There is no reason why this should not be used to improve decisions about how the lands and waters are used. Citizens as well as potential developers need help in making land use recommendations before they are brought before county planning commissions and Supervisors.

For example, detailed new temperature data based on a 30-year record exists for every spot in Virginia for each month.

The Realtor Group is a system for people who are appraising, buying, selling, renting, or developing land. It is a system for realtors and their real or potential clients. It may also become a partnership development in which Rural System, Inc. invests with realtors in efforts to sell or rent land. If successful (very likely with the combined work of the effective realtor and the services of Rural System, Inc.), a small percentage of the commission of the realtor may be shared to improve the system and enhance Rural System, Inc.

Most people believe they know what they want and they express these needs or wants in simple terms such as "a good piece of land" or "a place in the country." It takes work to describe exactly what is wanted; it takes work to get people to state what they want. Equally or more important is the problem of describing what they will get. Most people do not even know the categories, what questions to ask about land, or what information they could get if they knew how to ask for it. Few people have much practice in making big purchases. Most only do it one or two times. Stating wants and needs becomes increasingly more difficult as the society becomes more urban.

The Realtor Group provides an expert system analysis of lands that may meet the criteria and interests of a prospective buyer and then suggests (if requested) three financial plans for assisting in achieving a sale or purchase. The report is like a medical "work-up" on a patient. It can also be compared to military intelligence. It is a system that produces reports, maps, and illustrations that help realtors sell land by providing the answers to questions that clients actually have or may ask about land. It is the best information currently available within a dynamic database and it is provided in cost-effective phases. It connects responsible buyers with land units (each of which is unique). It attempts to increase the chances that customers will be pleased, the land and resources will be used well, the people of the area will prosper, and the users of the real estate business component of Rural System, Inc. will become increasingly prosperous.

A group of scientists can study a small tract of land for their entire careers and pass it along to their children for more study. There is no end to interesting questions about every piece of land. The Realtor Group does not answer all questions, only delivers information in three phases and in sequence. Each phase is of different intensity and depth. The Realtor Group staff and the foundation of Rural System can also develop a unique program of long-term studies for a client. Besides great taxation benefits, the public relations gains can be great. The report provides a baseline analysis as protection against future claims of excessive changes and abuses. Strategic project selection can usually be of direct benefit to companies (legal, environmental, and product development).

Phase 1 provides information about the state and counties. It gives the ecological region and general information about the forests and wildlife of the area. It provides exact location, rainfall, monthly temperatures, growing season, and an estimate of the number of species present. It analyzes area, boundary length and adjacent owners and problems and benefits. The most exciting unit is the maps. Based or a rough boundary map supplied by the realtor, the area is displayed within a topographic map "window" of about 25 miles on all sides (8 1/2 x 11 size). Expert survey sources are suggested and detailed mapping arranged as needed. An attractive, three-dimensional picture (in color) of the shape of the land surface inside this map is presented along with the rough boundary. The third map in color is the 3-dimensional picture of the land within the boundary that is for sale.

Phase 2 lists the major species known or likely present, analyzes the slopes, soil, aspect (direction downhill) of each unit, and provides extensive documents (all of these may be on a web site) about the forests of the area. A vegetation map is supplied. It includes a map based on the latest analyzed satellite images. Five other maps are presented - slopes, aspects, solar radiation, elevations, and watersheds.

Phase 3 provides other information about the area but its emphasis is on ideas for development, ecological limits, financial options, ecotourism potentials, hunting and fishing potentials, and bird watching and nature study and research potentials. Gross forest potentials are estimated but clients are referred, e.g., to EnviroFor, LLC. or Foresters, Inc. of Blacksburg, companies equipped to move past the Realtor documents, use them and the investment made in them, and to supply sophisticated cost-effective forestry services to enhance the land and stabilize its productivity and potential profits. Rural System, Inc. may soon be able to assist landowners in having their lands classified as Certified Forests by SmartWood (see The Certification Group).

The proposed Content of a report from the Realtor Group is as follows. Parts of the system are now under development. It includes many GIS maps, at least one 3-dimensional map, and the following topics. Much of the text is general and educational, applicable to many local sites, but many sections are site specific. It uses Landsat and other information sources. Progressively, the reports will be developed to become more site specific, with heavy use of "expert systems" technology. The proposed components (with commentary and other information in The Trevey) are in the table at the right.
  • Title Page
  • Preface
  • The Ecological Region of the State
  • The Forest Region
  • The Area
  • The County and its History
  • Pre-settlement People
  • GPS and the exact location
  • Taxes
  • Area
  • In-Holding
  • Distance to Schools
  • Distance to Towns, etc.
  • Boundary Analysis
  • Elevations
  • Slopes and Flat areas
  • Aspects
  • Precipitation and moisture
  • Temperature
  • Solar relations and energy potentials
  • Soil (General: later detailed soils maps will be prepared and potentials and limits described)
  • Wind energy potentials (and wind hazards)
  • Streams, Ponds, and Water Resources
  • Stream conditions (as relevant)
  • Bridges and culverts
  • Fish (number of species)
  • Groundwater
  • Scenic Vistas and Landscape scores
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Forests
  • Forest Productivity with Management and Innovations
  • Wildlife
  • Birds (number and later a likely species list)
  • Deer Resource Management potentials (including damage control)
  • Bear
  • Wild Turkey
  • Quail
  • Squirrel
  • Other Wildlife
  • Plants, Botanical Surveys, Plant numbers, Rare Species, and Wild Flower Gardens
  • Toxic Plants and Allergens
  • Growing Season and Planting Dates
  • Butterfly Gardens
  • Roads, Trails, and Access
  • The Appalachian Trail
  • Mining and Mineral Resources
  • Reshaping the Land and Restoration
  • Recreational Sites and Opportunities
  • Air Quality
  • Noise
  • Wildfires and Protection
  • Rural vandalism and safety protection potentials
  • Potentials for the Future and Services of Rural System, Inc.
  • Appraised values with and without such services.

The above information has not been readily available before. All or part of the above may now be available on the web site (with security for the owner) or delivered on paper (or both). On the web, changes are made as they are found or occur in the neighborhood of a tract and these may be incorporated for the owner.

Work with commercial real estate groups may be explored. For example, agents created the web site "AgentsMLS" for other agents. Unlike other real estate malls, when a client searches for property, no other agents are listed. Properties selected by your client are dropped in a shopping cart at your site and you are notified of their selections, so you get prepared to answer questions or show the properties. The above free website also contains current market information, great content, handy tools and calculators and marketing assistance.

As part of the service with each sale, we will list forests and wildland opportunities for the tract that is sold on our special web page. (Later we propose to enhance an expert system responsive to the stated needs of a client, one that sifts through available properties and gives each a "score" for how well the client's objectives and criteria are likely to be met.) We'll show sweeping digital pictures (e.g., IPIX) of tracts and their surroundings (on the Web) and list characteristics: production, forest yield, recreation potentials, hunting, birds, geology, opportunities, then try to make the purchaser of land a customer for our management.

A computer "fly-over" (giving the observer some of the feeling of flying slowly over a property or part of a county) might be done for large tracts. After the sale (and as a major advantage of the sale being offered with the assistance of Rural System, Inc.), we offer to help market the productive potentials of the land for the purchaser, presenting the services (and financial rewards) it might provide. Making connections and marketing for the realtors are encouraged for foresters, wildlife managers, and other aspects of Rural System, Inc. Certification of forests as being sustained and well managed can be arranged. Boundary signs are sold; plans are suggested; Trust-land tax benefits arranged; fencing and trails and restoration offered; etc.

The business model of the conventional realtor is now flipped by the Rural System, Inc. paradigm to one of providing entrance to long-term regional productivity, land and land value enhancement (related to later sales), and the realtor being the middle-person for sophisticated, modern, high-quality long-term resource management. Training programs will be offered to realtors to achieve effective use of the "intelligence reports" for clients.

The Warehouse Unit of The Realtor Group

In some areas of the county near rail and highways there are areas that are unproductive of trees (often of anything!). There are soil borrow areas, dry ridges, and even areas with toxic materials.

In the new world of e-commerce it seems that pleasing surroundings for visiting customers may not be needed. It the appearances of, for example, the bookseller needs only a warehouse, willing workers, and connections to transportation systems for personnel as well as shipping products from the site.

Some areas of the state are unsuitable for urban development and high human populations but may serve well as places for the new warehouses for e-commerce. Some land, removed from intensive forest-related benefit production, may serve. This Group studies the needs of clients, used GIS to find sites that meet the criteria of the client, arranges for land use, construction, etc., and finds ways to continue to achieve the objectives of Rural System, Inc. and to increase the profitability score. See also concepts for the Structures unit.

A single person is involved at first and works with System Central.


Development costs.......$30,000

Estimated annual profits..$150,000

Sample correspondence (ideas only):

Dear Realtor:

You can sell your forests, hunting, and recreation lands more rapidly and at a higher price than normal by becoming affiliated with and using The Realtor Group of Rural System, Inc. These services are available for local realtors and they produce satisfied customers that spread the "good word" about you and your company among potential customers.

Each realtor has special needs so we have developed a standard package - but with additions for you. We can customize analyses for you from among a set of options for your special customers. Typical analyses for areas include those such as:

We can deliver to you analyses of any tract in the region (now on paper but soon to be available directly from the Internet), providing more information than anyone has ever had before to help make a sale, interpret land and its potentials (and risks) to a buyer, identify possible buyers, and dodge potential problems and associated costs.

One alternative for getting started is for us to develop the system together, then engage in marketing it together to other realtors. Another alternative is for us to invest in the system and have exclusive rights, then offer it as a service to you at a specific cost per report produced. Another is to work together for a small percentage of the commission on each property on which the system is used. We work with you, enhancing your profits through sales. If our services do not work for you, there is no cost to you. (The more you make, the more frequently, the greater are the incentives.) There may be other options; let's work together. Please contact us, Rural System, Inc. at 540-552-8672 or rhgiles@ruralSystem. com.


Development has begun but the software costs may be high ($80,000). There are many combinations suggested above for work with local realtors. Work with ColdFusion-brand software from new regional organizations may provide advantages and the Conservation Management Institute of Virginia Tech is supportive and has mapping capabilities.

Youth and Adult Camps
(with Writers' Camps and The Old Codgers)

Camps that are already in existence within the region are to be sought for specialized use and developed as fun places for youths of both sexes and for adults. Concentrating on nature study, woodcraft, campcraft, and outdoor skills, a variety of activities allow people to escape the typical activities and sporting events of daily life at home. Non-denominational, the camps stress character-building, healthful living, independence, and a cooperative spirit. Periods are available for creative expressions (see The Writers' Camps described below).

Novosports are involved. Specialized units to enhance math and science interests and skills are available, both unified within the field programs. Extensive trail systems, boating, and horseback riding (including cooperative work with The Stables) provide a rich camplife environment. Tent-camps widely spaced provide opportunities for hiking and backpacking between camps. One unit, The Prospectors, concentrates on soils and geology. Weekend winter camping is planned.

sketch by George Rinsland, grandfather of Bob Giles, Staunton, Virginia, circa 1910
The Old Codgers

An organization, The Old Codgers, is formed and a specialized camp is developed for the elderly. This is where "to re-discover the child is one slogan put into action. Skits, dancing, marbles, ball toss, bike riding, swimming, reading, "how to use the computer " instruction, finding rocks in the stream, top spinning, singing, talent shows, art, songwriting, clogging, costume night, quiet times, good naps, good food, hikes, medical analyses and prescriptions for exercise and health, lasting memberships, newsletter and website and chat-room for each year, nature study and instruction, black bear and other wildlife ecology, photography, wood carving, Novosports, hide-and-seek (a new binoculars game), and GPSence, and story telling.


Rental and year-around use of existing facilities and lodges is proposed. Development costs may be $50,000 and annual profits ($500 x 20% occupancy x 20 periods x 30 campers = $60,000) are expected of:

Writers' Camp

A unique camp housed at one existing (or to-be-built) camp offers adult writers an unusual set of resources and programs to become successful writers or to improve as writers. The enterprise helps stabilize camp occupancy and promotes the area and its messages.

The camp provides:

This is a fully-catered activity. Staff members pick up participants at an airport or center and drive them to the camps, taking care of all baggage. Other camps or facilities for other family members (spouse or children) are available nearby and suggestions are available. This camp is an in-depth, fully concentrated, totally safe, drug-free, writing camp. There are great meals and trails for walking off frustrations (and weight). "Late snacks" are memorable. The camp does not "do sports but concentrates on walks, quiet periods, jogging opportunities, World Ball and new sports demonstrations, and educational trips. Staff work hard on providing access for adult writers with disabilities. The great outdoors is not inaccessible. Programs are available: readings, skits, and lectures. The camp provides "conflict centers," "crisis spots, and the "hypervolume" the latter being a novel process for seeing conflicts more clearly and inventing new ones (about which to write.) A camp vocabulary game (on the computer) provides challenges, learning, fun, and "bragging rights" as scores progress during the week.

A local lore project is available for people with such interest. A 4-hour practical photography-support unit is taught. A vast "title and idea base" is available, providing a unique system to give ideas for articles, poems, etc. that match with each writer's interests or background. A poets' electronic chapbook will be developed with help of the software group.

This is a year-around activity with limited winter camps. It coordinates with many other enterprises of Rural System, Inc. Meaningful physical work (volunteer opportunities) other than jogging is available. We'll coordinate with the Southwest Virginia Writing Project of Virginia Tech.

Prof. Lisa Norris is an award-winning writer and faculty member of the English Department at Virginia Tech. She teaches English 1106 with a "People and Nature" emphasis:

Her comments about the proposed camp:

The focus of your camp is different, I think, from most of the ones I know, where people mainly want to make contacts with famous writers and agents and learn something more about the craft. Your camp idea seems to be a bit more holistically oriented--very interesting.


This unit of the enterprise is likely to use existing facilities. A "tent camp" may be tested for expansion for some types of writers. Rentals of select areas for special use from the public lands (and other private, nearby areas) may be attempted. Development costs ($150,000) are staffing, special advertising, and physical improvements.

The Memorials Group

In a special places within the Pivotal Tracts and throughout the region there may be developed memorial sites. These are places where people may scatter the ashes of loved ones or come to remember the departed. Small bronze plaques (with name and birth and death dates only) are inset deep into the native rock. These are places for contemplation, for small memorial services, for remembrance. Around and in the area, there are only native plants, no artificial or other flowers, and no signs. It is a place that will meet the special needsand wishes of some people. Funeral services may be arranged. Some people will add a memorial plaque many years after the death of a friend or relative. Poems, bird lists, and plant lists will be available. The sites are like beauty spots, enhancing the general rural beauty of the region.

Pylons for unique wildlife shelter may be placed in a special location. These provide nesting sites for chimney swifts. Bronze memorial plaques are also placed on them and the nearby large rocks.

Studies on rock weathering and lichen will begin and the permanent markers of the site will be used in historical ecology studies planned for the future. Global-positioning satellite location technology will be used in a novel way.

Only peripherally related to the memorial sites, a program of wise giving toward future environments will be developed. Many people are distressed over the "waste" and peculiar distribution of grants and bequests made on the death of friends and family. A program is created for people who wish to contribute to an active, long-term program of planned research, development, and education about the environment and its wise management. Evidence is that axes cannot stabilize such programs of study.

Environmental topics often become controversial. It is almost impossible to achieve the educational centers of excellence, the research equipment, the practical approaches needed, the background and support that allow superior scientists and systems-oriented people to create useful systems for society. There is a need for a Jonas Saulk-like center for rural and wildland research and development. Funds from memorials and bequeaths may be solicited to allow such an institute to be created and projects within it to flourish. Fees from the memorial sites themselves may assist.

Gifts, Awards, and Recognitions

Small grants and gifts to a person on retirement might be suggested. For example, a collection of $4,000 from friends and colleagues at a fiftieth birthday might go to producing a text summarizing knowledge about a variety of trout (assisting in The Fishery), or about a much-admired bird (Avi), or about some aspect of the white-tailed deer (The Deer Group). Rather than citizens making general contributions into a "good cause," contributed funds may be used well and a person may be given a lasting honor with continuing observable benefits to the environment and to society. Whole units of land may be accepted as gifts and made a vital part of the Rural System, Inc. and the Pivotal Tracts. Administration within some foundations seems to utilize excessive amounts of working funds from bequests and gifts to continue to gain extra funds. Perhaps a viable alternative can be created. Fees related to the sites are used for costs, marketing, and perpetual site maintenance and security.

A Foundation

Creation of or affiliation with a Foundation may allow land to be dedicated to easements and preservation in the name of certain people (with substantial tax advantages), either as honoraria or memorials. The Forests Group would logically mark and manage these dedicated areas into perpetuity. Security and Safety would protect the dedicated areas.

Special services in genealogy, especially for people of the county and region may be provided for modest fees, perhaps with the Wildland Knowledge Base and with computer mapping. Web sites now provide abundant assistance and knowledge of them and how to use them may be a valuable service for some participants.

Wonderful rumors, tales, and short stories are likely to grow about these memorial places and the places will surely feature in some of the work of participants in Writers' Camps.

See Shelley Sass of Sass Conservation, New York a tombstone restoration workshop, that might be well related to this group through Stoneworms and The Sculptors. Mr. Donald St. John of Lynchburg, Virginia, (who does restoration work in the Old City Cemetery) might be a resource or provide suggestions and techniques.


Three sites are proposed to be on Pivotal Tracts. Development costs are estimated as $50,000 but cooperating funeral agents may use the concepts suggested here and no special places will be developed.


Pivots is an organization for everyone in the region and everyone interested in the activities, operation, and successes of Rural System, Inc. In addition to most citizens of the county, many tourists are expected to join.

A charter membership of at least 5,000 people is anticipated. It costs $25 per person per year. Membership supports the development and growth in effectiveness of Rural System, Inc., an investment in their county and region, but it also provides members many benefits including:

  1. A newsletter and access to the Pivots' web-site with entrance to Fog Drip (music) and Floats (e-poems).
  2. Notices of several occasional meetings each year
  3. Membership materials: caps, Tee-shirts, flags, mugs, embroidered emblems
  4. Outdoor clothing discounts
  5. Outdoor equipment and product discounts
  6. Outdoor and nature book lists with discounts
  7. Discounts on memberships in The Foresters and The Wildland Walkers
  8. Discounts on Avi course entrance fees
  9. Discounts when purchasing art, photographs, and sculptures
  10. Discounts on 2 announced tours a year
  11. Discounts on registration fees for contests and participating in events
  12. Discount for registration at an annual meeting
  13. Priority access to land management consulting and management service
  14. An annual financial membership rebate or award based on total annual profits of Rural System, Inc.

The "rebates " provide widespread personal incentives for the people of the county and Rural System, Inc. to "do well. "


Development cost: $40,000


Nature Folks

Nature Folks is an independent, private, not-for-profit organization that allows people new opportunities to learn about nature and the wildlands, to encourage study of nature and natural resources, and to provide pleasant opportunities to learn and contribute to knowledge about the region and the objectives of Rural System, Inc. It has no voting membership. It provides an organization, supplies, equipment, materials, opportunities, and services to its members.

The intent of the group is to help people who love nature and who study it. Nature study is usually a very private, personal activity but occasionally it needs help, encouragement, or support. Many studies result in people gaining world-class knowledge, a wonderful resource that may even be shared or passed on to future generations.

Nature Folks is not an environmental or ecological "activist" or "fund-raising" group. It takes no "stand" and is not a political group. There are many other organizations available to meet these needs. In a related way, however, knowledge of a region can serve well in encouraging sound regional development, high quality of life, and diverse recreational and educational opportunities. Undoubtedly, contacts will be made through Nature Folks with people of similar interests in proposed development projects within the region. The group affiliates with local museums, the North American Association for Environmental Education, and other enterprises.

Nature Folks was created for people who do not already have major groups with which they can affiliate (such as the bird watchers, fishing or hunting groups) or which do not now meet their needs. It is especially for people often not having special interest or enthusiasm, but who are generally interested in local nature, the outdoors, and the working of natural things. It is for individuals, but corporate or organization involvement in special projects is welcomed and encouraged.

It provides access and opportunities at relatively low cost to:

  1. Support and encouragement
  2. Some services (e.g., exact site location from a Global Positioning Satellite Unit (GPS))
  3. Leads to references
  4. Scientific reports and report writing assistance
  5. Safety and outdoor health advice
  6. Leads to potential cooperators in nature related projects
  7. Interesting meetings, tours, and trips
  8. Advice on needed studies and important specialty areas (a priority system)
  9. Access to an important study area where coordination and cooperation can have synergistic results
  10. Targets for highly effective volunteer work and contributions
  11. A unique trust and bequest program of current as well as lasting significance
  12. Hours of fun
  13. Limited regional part-time employment opportunities
  14. Many opportunities to encourage youth to study wildland ecology and for them to move into leadership within natural resource fields
  15. A means to preserve and pass on knowledge so we stop reinventing and rediscovering
  16. A list of nature-related consultants
  17. Unique hikes and tours
  18. Access to extended nature study expeditions within the region
  19. Sponsorship of unusual nature contests and games
  20. Sales of nature equipment
  21. Reduced membership fees to other nature groups
  22. Information about and unusual prices on outdoor equipment
  23. Opportunities to publish (See the Writers' Camps)
  24. Ever-changing opportunities on the Internet and World Wide Web.
  25. Access to unusual data bases and software
  26. Access to opportunities for meaningful, healthful, volunteer work
  27. Access to events combining knowledge of nature and high adventure
  28. Membership-limited photographic sites for special nature phenomena and events
  29. Unique access to unique nature (high canopy; caves; lakes)
  30. Access to an automated nature center
  31. Access to research of lasting importance
  32. Assistance to deserving graduate students and researchers
  33. Intensive education programs for summer camp nature instructors/counselors
  34. Cooperative 4-H, scouting, and related programs
  35. A unique court program for law breakers
  36. A unique old-growth/ancient forest analysis
  37. Horseback tours into bear country
  38. "Owl hoots," high adventure owl-related tours (see The Owls Group)
  39. Tours to observe endangered woodpeckers

There are many activities of the Nature Folks. There is an on-going communication of members by means of the Internet newsletter, Ooze. Publications and notes are made available. A museum is supported. Four field trips or tours, seasonal, are held. Occasional long expeditions are held. A variety of volunteer opportunities are made available. A portion of membership fees supports special study projects and involvement in planned, funded projects. Encouraging high quality wildland research is one mission.

A Weatherfolks group might develop.

Conserving observations of nature is an activity already being developed within our NatureSeen an Internet site for members.

Improvements in the Wildland Knowledge Base are a special area of work and interest.

Nature Folks is a diverse group. Some people prefer solitary work and enjoy the newsletter and web site. Others prefer more group-oriented work and social activities. Neither is emphasized over others and, in general, a "participant pays" policy operates. It is for everyone. There are no gender, age, race, nationality, or place-of-residence limits. The initial emphasis is on the region's wildlands and on their active, diverse, creative and non-destructive uses. There are literally thousands of potential topics of interest to members of Nature Folks. They are likely to change as knowledge is gained about them, as interests wane, as resources become available or are lost. Rather than name topics, broad interest or emphasis groups have been formed.

They are:

The Species People: Concentrates on one or two species of plants or animals, or soil types.

The Time People: Concentrates on phenology, the study of the change in biological events over the year (the migration of geese, the fall of leaves, the blooming of daffodils) throughout Virginia and the region. The BirdCast web site may provide a suggestion for a format for members to use to follow migrations.

The Place People: Find their greatest interest in unusual exciting places - bogs, ponds, seeps, forest stands, fern beds, caves, mines, talus slopes, cliffs.

The Layer People: Concentrate on the variety of interesting life in wildland layers, the neritic zone, deep ponds, pond surface, ground surface, the forest layers, even the zone above forests.

The Hyperspace People: Tend to go for it all, all of the above - and more - their interests are multidimensional, unlimited.

The year-around life cycles of invertebrates are essential knowledge for the stream ecologists of The Fishery, those interested in bats (the nighttime workers of The Owls Group), and the migratory forest birds as part of Avi. People interested in the coyote, foxes, and canids of the world join the subgroup called Coyote. New knowledge about the lives of invertebrates will flow from the Butterfly Band because of the capabilities and resources of the GIS of System Central. The Wildland Walkers are hikers who are interested in walking to see nature but also the practical aspects of woodcraft and wildland lore. The interests of The Plant People are unusually diverse. The enterprise is a membership, tour, visitor, publication, survey, museum, garden-interest, and photograph sales group. Its "profit-role" is in loss reduction and cost-effective services not available elsewhere.

A list of topics that members typically embrace may cause some people to reject the group and it may suggest priorities or emphases. Neither is intended. A list, nevertheless, may suggest the types of interests of members and study groups and themes for field trips. The people of Nature Folks are unusual. They are typically roaming off the beaten track and their topics (again, only suggestions of the scope and range of interests) are likely to include:

  1. The Minnows of Stream X.
  2. The Insects of the Oak Canopy
  3. Millipedes of the Area
  4. Land Snails: Where Do They Live?
  5. Horsehair Worms
  6. Succession in Artificial Peat Bogs
  7. The Ferns
  8. The Mushrooms of the Region
  9. The Shelf Fungi
  10. The Growing Season
  11. The Fire History of Area Z
  12. The Geological Differences in Area A and Area B
  13. Lunar Forces
  14. Lightning in the Wildlands

One project in which all members are encouraged to participate (there are few) is the Seasons Project, keeping a long-term record of when certain biological events occur (e.g., bird migration, flower bloom, leaf fall) and how they differ year to year. A web chatroom assists in continuing interest in the flow of the seasons across the US. This group's interest is akin to naturalists' of Britain interest in phenology.

Funding is anticipated through:

  1. Memberships with newsletter (with advertising)
  2. Access to the Internet and advertising or sponsorships
  3. Software sales
  4. Publication sales (by cooperative work, Nature Folks creates never-seen-before maps of actual or probable occurrences of biological phenomena in the region. It sells playing-card size identification aids and games)
  5. Tours (see The Tours Group; U.S. and international)
  6. Guided treks (see The Wildland Walkers)
  7. Rebates from publishers and equipment sales
  8. Sales of library searches (see The Wildland Knowledge Base)
  9. Catalog sales of nature supplies and equipment
  10. Honoraria (trails, plaques, Memorials Group)

Funds are also gained from fees to use lands within Rural System, Inc. and elsewhere. Although there are thousands of acres of "free" federal and state lands for recreation, these lands and their recreational resources are perceived to be inadequately managed.

Experimental programs were begun in 1998 to charge fees for use of federal lands. The problem reported was that current systems of financing public lands through taxes has "led to poor maintenance, excessive spending and neglect of natural resources." Because the current system relies on congressional appropriations, park and forest managers must cater to Washington politics. Recreation fees seem needed to help institute yearly maintenance programs and restore degrading facilities and natural resources. The report from the study observed that the current financing system of charging "below-cost fees" prevents private businesses such as Rural System, Inc. from providing outdoor recreation because they have trouble competing economically with federal agencies.


Development costs are those of 2 people over 2 years and are about $60,000. With minimum memberships of 2000 people @ $35, and additional income from sales and conferences, the annual estimates for profits are:

of Nature Folks

Coyote is the name of an enterprise related to the coyote and wild canids such as the wolves and foxes. There is a vast interest in dogs, both wild and domestic, by US citizens. There are some 57 million dog pets. This enterprise concentrates on the wild dogs, the coyotes and foxes of the region, and then others in the dog family elsewhere worldwide. Many pet owners, are believed, will be interested in this group. The Dogs Group concentrates on pet, domestic, and hunting dogs. Like The Owls Group, the enterprise is devoted to superior population management, to studies, and to increasing net benefits from the canid resource.

The activities, similar to the other enterprises associated with Nature Folks, include:

  1. Newsletter and web site connections
  2. Membership
  3. Field observation trips
  4. Photo opportunities
  5. Use of predator calls
  6. Use of electronic calls
  7. Publications - life history
  8. Publications - pest damage management
  9. Night call-up trips
  10. Memorials and honoraria
  11. Use of night-vision equipment
  12. Tours to see the canids of the U.S., and also the world
  13. Sponsor of a canid life-list organization, one whose members attempt to see and photograph all of the wild dogs of the world.

Coyote can be a powerful resource of the region and major contributions can be made by it to the resource base of Rural System, Inc. The Rural System, Inc. concept includes that of net benefits and the coyote represents potential losses in the deer populations, and several other system components. The losses are present among deer, game and avian resources, and livestock. Seeing and hearing coyotes is part of the outdoor experience. They can reach unregulated, high numbers and therewith may impinge upon other resources.

This enterprise will take nighttime truck and bus tours for guests into the wilds. They will hear and experience the coyotes and foxes. Binoculars, telescopes, and night-vision equipment will augment the views. Entertainment and education will typically cap off an exciting evening that is especially designed for tour groups. Memberships will be arranged; research encouraged; and potentially major advances made in ecosystem principles by a concentration on this top predator.

Occasional conferences will be held. Visits will be coordinated with other Rural System, Inc. events. Resolving the role of the coyote is unlikely. It now spreads into the East, opening new opportunities for Coyote chapters around the U.S. It will be a major topic of the Pest Force, and The Goat System. It will relate to the food management of owls, of interest to those people in The Owls Group. Research grants will be sought.


There are very low development costs ($30,000). A rented truck, benches, an electronic "caller" are about all that are needed by a group leader(s) to begin to produce these nightly trips. There are estimated annual profits of $50 x 8 visitors x 80 nights or $32,000. Each of the three variables can be manipulated readily. Repeat visits are expected. Estimates of profits to the enterprise after all incentives are awarded are:

The Owls Group
of Nature Folks

The Owls Group is an 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. Newsletter
  4. Research
  5. Photo opportunities and sales
  6. Bird Life-list building
  7. Owl-based tourism (to see the owls of the world with The Tours Group)
  8. Promotion of the nighttime world of nature
  9. Promoting inclusion of lunar forces in ecosystem considerations and studies
  10. Sale of night-observation equipment
  11. Publications on owls and their ecology
  12. Publications on predator-prey relations
  13. Art sales (painting, sculpture, photographs)
  14. Wilderness/remote area camping expeditions with owls as a major goal
  15. Sale or rent of "calling" equipment. Web-page interactions for members with emphasis on owl observations and timing of local events (phenology)
  16. Food habit studies
  17. Interaction with the Wildland Knowledge Base
  18. Sale of screech-owl nesting boxes (see Products Group)
  19. Service (installation and maintenance) of owl nest boxes
  20. Foundation support and memorials (see the Memorials Group)


A trip, for example, would include a meal for 30 clients gathered at a nearby restaurant and motel. After introductions and a dinner, the group would hear a brief talk and see slides of owls, and afterwards board a bus. During the 20-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 motel. 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 activities include 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 the southwestern Virginia region. 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:


  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.


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:

Nest Building - We shall design and erect platforms and nests and provide conditions for nesting. This will involve optimal spacing, density, and maintenance.
Nest Maintenance - We shall contract to provide nest maintenance, particularly cleaning and repair.
Breeding - We shall seek mans to breed and raise cost-effectively in captivity these birds. These will be for research as well as management.
Lectures - We shall offer public lectures for fees using live birds (with legal permits) as exhibits.
Shows - We shall exhibit birds at shows, fairs, etc., with lectures and educational programs.
Calling Contests - We shall design and conduct a profitable owl-calling contest. We'll seek to gain control over rights to such contests, e.g., through trademark "franchise."
Elderly - We shall promote "pet" owls or hawks for homes of elderly and shut-ins (wild owls attracted to boxes or feeders). We'll provide supplies, care, and lectures for such groups.
Osprey Management - An example of a specialized, species-specific service is our osprey management project. This is for people or corporations with relatively large water bodies or a desire to have ospreys. This may require creating or modifying a pond or wetland with a dike. It will include nests, forage fish management, and viewing areas or telescopes.
Insects - Insects associated with the raptors will be collected and collections sold to collectors and biological supply houses (e.g., feather louse)
Books - Books will be published for profit.
Articles - Articles with photographs will be published for profit.
Photographs - Photographers will be given access to raptor "models" and habitats for a fee. Impact Analyses - Inputs to impact assessments or statements involving raptors will be sought and information provided for a fee.
Life History - Reports and analyses from computer-based information systems will be provided.
Supplies - We'll sell supplies of all types for raptor fanciers (e.g., food, perches, falconry materials, and radios).
Magazine - We'll publish a newsletter, see if it evolves to a magazine, and sell related magazines supportive of The Owls Group concepts. Management Plans - We'll develop comprehensive land management plans for farms, ranches, and forests that emphasize the raptor and include GIS maps of occurrence and suitable habitats.
Vertebrate Damage Management - The roles of raptors in pest management are poorly known or utilized. The may be of use to haze blackbirds or to reduce rodents in crop fields. The role needs work and may be integrated with other damage control activities.
Monitoring - Landowners may need protection against claims that their practices are harming owl populations. Certified, bonded monitors can provide appropriate reports using approved (Max et al. 1990), as well as advanced procedures developed by The Owls Group.
Falconry - Birds for falconry may be trained and sold.
Training - schools for falconry amateurs and others will be held for fees. Books, articles, materials and birds will be sold.
T and E Work - Recovery plans, managerial work, and research on threatened and endangered species will be done whenever feasible.
Perches - Perches will be sold and installed on select areas to create highly nitrogenous centers for vegetation.
Tours - Owls are widespread in the world a life-list program will allow a series of extended tours (e.g., in China) to see all of the owls of the world. A U.S. life-list group will be formed and an honored membership roll will be kept on the web. Special tours are developed, first for Belize (Gallon Jug), China (5 tour routes), India (northern India, Dehra Dun), and Senegal (Nikolokoba Park).


Development costs for advertising and site development are modest. Much work can be sponsored by System Central ($60,000). A staff of three seems a modest start. Members tally at @ $20 minimum for 1000 participants. Alone, 100 night-trips or events with a bus of 20, each person contributing $50 profits (i.e., $100,000), suggest income and relevant profits. Estimates are:

of Nature Folks

Prospectors is a for-profit enterprise within Rural System, Inc. and the Nature Folks unit. As in other enterprises, relations are as important as the specific work of the enterprise. It attempts to relate to all aspects of people's great interests in mining, geology, geomorphology, rocks, soils, and minerals.

The organization sponsors "prospecting trips" as a primary activity but it has a diverse set of tactics all aimed at improved, comprehensive resource management with an emphasis in the diverse realms of geology. The work will be changing, but in the first years, the tasks will be:

  1. Linking with rockhounds (see "Rockhound" notes) and geologists and working with a craft shop to develop rock-related products for sale.
  2. Developing a club for rockhounds and geology enthusiasts with local meetings and trips and equipment supplies, services, and instruction. Gaining commissions on select magazine sales as part of memberships.
  3. Creating a unified geologic database (including hazard maps) for the lands of the region and moving it into the GIS.
  4. Creating a mines database and area history.
  5. Mapping surface strata with GPS
  6. Mapping radioactivity and potential toxicants (e.g., arsenic and lead).
  7. Arranging for university geology field trips (a "tent city") from universities around the world with analyses and reports on the complex Ridge and Valley Province, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Virginia piedmont
  8. Developing camps for "prospectors," people who want a 2-5 day wildland mining and semi-precious stone search and gold-panning experience.
  9. Developing guided tours with donkeys or llamas, "The Old Codgers Group," education, early dress, foods (promoting Rural System, Inc.'s Sourdough (see under The Products Group), music, etc.
  10. Working with all enterprises to assure "environmental geology" is integrated into their projects (roads, trails, fishery, viewscapes, soils, forest site quality and tree stand stress, and safety).
  11. Developing publications (e.g., relating forests and geology; geology and wildlife; geology and soil characteristics; geology and albedo (light reflectance); geology and the stream fishery (e.g., stream velocity and pebble size); geology and rangeland types; fossil records; and natural heavy-metal pollution).
  12. Encouraging responsible mineral rock collecting. Providing a stone-polishing service for visitors, one that allows them to take "their perfect stone" from a stream with them.
  13. Reducing problems from abandoned mines and mine tailings.
  14. Exploring profits from new local mining technology that may allow resource development within the context of the Rural System, Inc. concept.
  15. Mapping anticlines, potential groundwater pollution zones (as under Wintergreen), and developing a groundwater information system.

The activities, services, and products of the Prospectors are likely to include:

  1. Field trips
  2. Newsletter
  3. Research
  4. Photo opportunities
  5. Mineral collecting and displays of local, regional materials
  6. Mining and mineral-resource-based ecotourism (see The Tours Group)
  7. Promoting responsible mineral collecting and prospecting
  8. Sale of prospecting equipment (panning, hammers, display cases)
  9. Publications on geological strata, maps, historical geology and ecology including computer maps of select areas
  10. Publications on mining, clay, sand, and gravel history
  11. Art sales (painting, sculpture, photographs)
  12. Tours into mines and caves
  13. Mineral collections and shows for collectors
  14. Trips to locate abandoned mines and to study their influences
  15. Web-page interactions for members with emphasis on rocks and minerals and on geological mapping (advertising support)
  16. Interaction with the Wildland Knowledge Base (contacts for services)
  17. Sale of mined-land reclamation services , notably planning (The Trevey) and nursery stock
  18. Foundation support and memorials (The Memorials Group)
  19. Developing sale items for The Products Group (fossil elements, garden stones, sculpting media)

Working with others within Nature Folks, people within this group tend to emphasize the soil and geological elements of the ecosystem. Gold is still found is some parts of the Eastern US. Tours are readily created with a mine as a destination, and then ancillary activities can be included to create desirable tourism conditions ... both into the region and within it for the tour-creating tour-enhancing enterprise.


Development costs are low. A small staff will start. (Start-up: $60,000). Similar group work is unknown. Estimates are difficult but:

The Plant People of Nature Folks

The Plant People is a profit-oriented group with objectives of preserving and protecting plants of the region, advancing knowledge of plants and their role in the ecosystem, encouraging diverse wild-plant-related recreation, encompassing responsible ecotourism, encouraging restoration of plant communities, and encouraging responsible wild plant gardening in the region.

The activities within the group, in no particular order, are:

  1. Creating a membership
  2. Publishing a newsletter
  3. Making phenology studies (timing of plant changes such as bud break)
  4. Creating county and regional plant occurrence checklists
  5. Conducting surveys and tours
  6. Participating in joint biodiversity surveys
  7. Managing special wild-plant-emphasis trails
  8. Selling books
  9. Selling checklists
  10. Conducting poisonous-plant surveys
  11. Conducting wildlife food (mast) surveys
  12. Encouraging Rural System, Inc. gardens
  13. Studying limits of the non-timber forest resource (decorative plants, etc.)
  14. Selling maps (especially of frost periods and suitability zones)
  15. Selling related software
  16. Encouraging plant-related art
  17. Maintaining a web site
  18. Holding an annual conference
  19. Encouraging and selling photographs
  20. Helping to develop a local herbarium
  21. Develop a seeds collection and wildlife food analysis system
  22. Developing files on medicinal plants
  23. Exploring commercial potentials in dyes, medicinals, and preservatives
  24. Reviewing plant and plant ecology related books
  25. Developing local plant identification aids and a training course and walkway
  26. Developing a wild garden where "gleanings" from developed areas are placed
  27. Writing and developing books and CD-ROMs
  28. Creating a game and regional contest related to plant identification
  29. Sponsoring photograph display events
  30. Creating a book or information system on plant and insect relations
  31. Mapping wild plant locations with GPS locations
  32. Sponsoring research on all aspects of the region's The Plant People
  33. Participating in comprehensive modeling effort, simulation and optimization
  34. Developing thoughtful papers on plant diversity; viability of populations; plants in ecosystems; plant-to-plant, plant-to-animal, and plant-to-geology relationships
  35. Working to achieve knowledge of and engaging in practical efforts to manage fires as they effect The Plant People
  36. Assisting in baseline descriptions
  37. Promoting special studies of the roots and plants in the root-zone of The Plant People
  38. Developing cost-effective rare-species recovery plans
  39. Encouraging contributions of time, money, and knowledge to wildland studies
  40. Encouraging ecological tours throughout the world
  41. Promoting interest of minorities in The Plant People and their systems
  42. Promoting and developing a computer wild plant information system and web site
  43. Working with the Fire Force in describing effects of wildfires on plants and top soil

Other ideas include garden tours, gardens with places (alcoves) for many people to sit and rest, perhaps with tea service, expert systems for plants and plant diseases and pests, a county-fair weekend presentations of topics, publications and CDs, e-commerce with many suppliers, and a school resulting in special honors, awards, and knowledge competition. Working with AOL or others for percentages on book sales.


A special botanist will need to be recruited and part time help developed with others in the region. As many of the other groups, each requires one or more people with special knowledge as well as enthusiasm for a topic. The search may be difficult but it may inform botanists (with limited employment options) that there is valuable work to be done that can pay its way. (Development costs: $50,000). Estimates of profits for Rural System, Inc.:

The Butterfly Band
of Nature Folks

This is the insect company. It seeks to maximize profits from insect-related activity, primarily that which is related to moths and butterflies. Expressing interest in biodiversity, a national and international concern, the Band seeks to learn of the ecology of the insects of the area. It gives greatest attention to the more conspicuous and attractive butterflies but works with the entire realm of entomology...from pests to production of commodities and crafts.

One emphasis is increased production of crops (not just reduced losses) due to managed insect populations. This enterprise seeks to develop a comprehensive bee- and insect-related system distributed throughout the region.

It promotes interest in bees and in honey production. Other activities include cooperative honey buying/marketing, bee and butterfly "clubs," pollination service, insect damage appraisals, newsletters, sale of supplies, computer software and education, and photography. Its profound strategy is to secure a toxicant-free environment for bees (thus people and wildlife. It sells equipment for honey production, sells honey and wax, rents pollinators in season, and supplies products for venom therapy research. Hives are set up in approved areas near secure sites. Small areas are planted to produce specifically designed (computer aided) supplies. A co-op of local producers is developed or existing ones used. Supplies of quality honey are processed in various styles, color, taste, and quality to maximize profit.

The Pivotal Tracts are likely to be hit by various insects and developing appropriate damage management strategies are needed. These must be integrated with other objectives of the area.

A collection is maintained with the Laboratory, later considered for museum-like displays and for use in food-habits analyses and law enforcement (forensic) work.

Insects are a primary food of fish, birds, and mammals. This enterprise is a "service group" in the same sense that the rangeland component of The Pasture and Rangeland Group works to provide plant forage for livestock and wildlife. Managing insect biomass is a new function in the wildland. Including the invertebrate fauna in "biodiversity" is a massive problem that few in the general public or legislatures have contemplated. Other enterprise actions include:

  1. supplying rare photographs
  2. supplying advice on insects and garden problems
  3. relating plant to insect phenology
  4. developing endangered species strategies and tactics
  5. working with advancing 4-H entomology projects
  6. developing insect lists for the Realtor Group (also identifying correlated dominant groups , target taxa, or clades that reflect insects over broad areas to reduce time and costs of insect surveys (see C. Kremen, Ecol Applications 1994 4(3):407-422))
  7. developing expertise with insect-arthropod vectors and parasites (e.g., nose bots, bot flies, Lyme disease)
  8. developing new strategies and understandings of integrated pest damage management in connection with the Pest Force
  9. developing optimum mixes of honey types (color, taste, quality)
  10. cooperative marketing of honey crop by color, taste, and name developed within the enterprise
  11. producing a honey-related recipe book
  12. using insects in The Products Group
  13. doing research in alternative use of honey and wax
  14. doing research into the role of bee in forests and to mast (nut) crops of interest
  15. doing research in the uses of wax, particularly with leather products (see The Deer Group and The Goat System)
  16. protecting hives from animals, vandals, and theft (See the Pest Force and Safety and Security Group)
  17. supplying insects (and slides of insects) to biological supply houses

In addition to bees, the enterprise collects and preserves insects for educational purposes, assists in maintaining the state's insect collection, provides identification service for pest control operators and interested people.

It conducts insect surveys (and contract agricultural insect surveys for state and federal agencies) for property owners interested in comprehensive biodiversity surveys. It engages in insect-community relations research, particularly in forest areas. It is uniquely qualified to engage in baseline wilderness surveys.

It continues studies and applications of Heikkenen's hypothesis for pine tree stand moisture stress.

It seeks contracts for threatened or endangered species recovery projects. It publishes Bug Notes an e- newsletter for everyone interested in any and all of the above topics and Hex Notes for those having bee interests [An organization for people interested in butterflies (and other insects) and butterfly gardens will be studied.] Freelance writing and photography are encouraged for alternative funding and name recognition. Bee costumes for youth and others are made. "Bee parties" for small children (full range of games, food, costumes, and decorations are supplied - a party package for children age 4-7 in units of 5 for Halloween, parades, etc. A party consultant will be available).


Willing cooperators in households throughout the region (after being given instructions and equipment) will do many of the tasks listed. Pest control operators (Dodson, Orkin, etc.) are likely to be (irregular) customers for identification and other services.

Consulting is freely provided to the Pest Force promoting a version of integrated pest damage management. "Bug Notes" is sold to cooperators, pest control operators, Nature Folks, and farmers. It advertises the Rural System, Inc. services.


Development costs are estimated as ....$45,000. Annual profits:

The Wildland Knowledge Base

Providing knowledge for today's difficult land-related decisions is the work of the WKB (later to be re-named the Rural Knowledge Base). It exists to expedite observations into knowledge and knowledge into use in the wide-ranging fields of land use and natural resource management. Having its own unique computer data-bases, it is also linked internationally to provide data analyses, bibliographies, cutting-edge access to reports, reports and briefs, unique searches, and translations in leading foreign libraries, and innovative work to gain knowledge of workers, retirees, indigenous people, and others in new ways. We access research findings and move them into decisions and action.

Rural System, Inc. is in business to improve the way that natural resource decisions are made. We know that there are many forces operating in any decision-making system. We even see the decision as a system. One requirement for all decisions is that they require information. They need inputs of all kinds - anecdotes, observations, assumptions, and the "hard stuff" - data synthesized and processed so that it is useful. "Useful" means that it fits right into the typical, final, difficult act of deciding.

We've done research for years and have been frustrated that our results have not gone out into decisions. We've done comprehensive, sophisticated literature reviews and while they have been useful to a few people, they have never been widely used. The Internet presents new resources to many people but there is now so much available that specialized knowledge and searching skills are needed for using the new medium that was to open knowledge to everyone.

We can now address problems and needs that we believe exist throughout the natural resource field -- throughout the world. That need is for supplying the best knowledge available for the decisions being made that affect land use and natural resources, particularly the wildlands. We operate on the basis that there is a great amount of knowledge available for natural resource decision-making. It is not being used at all in some cases and not well in others. One reason is that it is not processed well, but another is that its existence is not even known. The WKB, is a knowledge system about natural resource knowledge. We know where knowledge is and can help individuals, corporations, and agencies find it, or we find if for them. We have build unique knowledge bases and practical models to use knowledge for certain field situations.

Premises upon which the company works are:

  1. Observations can be improved.
  2. Analyses of observations can be improved and expedited.
  3. Wastes in unproductive past studies can be reduced
  4. Vast knowledge about natural resources and land is now available and needs to be used.
  5. People are now swamped by data and information and methods are available to overcome this problem.
  6. Improving processing of data and information is as important as gaining more observations or data.
  7. Much knowledge exists in other countries.
  8. Science is only one pathway to knowledge; there are others, especially when time, funds, labor, or available energy are limited to species or conditions endangered.
  9. Expert knowledge is a treasured resource.
  10. Knowledge can often be captured in numbers or equations expressing relations and used in models.
  11. Knowledge is often adequate. No more studies will improve the certainty of a statement because systems are naturally variable.
  12. Using knowledge is part of the knowledge-building process. Use helps in testing (invalidation) and correcting current perceptions of truth.
  13. Knowledge formats (such as those of the Modern Language Association are very important.
  14. Knowledge can be improved if spatial and temporal factors are used with it.

We are in the knowledge business. We have massive, unique knowledge bases, unique collections, proprietary knowledge of other bases, access to vast information resources, and efficient procedures. We are dedicated natural resource specialists working with equally dedicated information system scientists and others to bring knowledge cost-effectively into use on the land.

Fully aware that all natural resource decisions are not made based only on knowledge about the system and consequences of a decision, the staff of The WKB is committed to increasing the role of knowledge in decisions. Without it, other forces can have a strong hand. We are committed to having such knowledge its rightful place at the decision table. We offer services for a price. We can provide in a timely fashion comprehensive reports in select areas of natural resources and the wildland topics. These are well-written summary and analytical reports by our superior staff. The reports are backed up by computer-aided literature searches, access to a large private library, access to national library sources, and, in some cases, to interviews of experts and folk authorities.

We have access to a modern university library, home of the internationally known VTLS (Virginia Tech Library System) that has virtually replaced the card catalog and allowed improved access to library resources.

We are linked to the National Library for the Environment that includes the Congressional Research Reports,, and US and others.

We provide:

  1. An expert registry
  2. A library research group to provide rapid library studies
  3. Bibliographies on many natural resource topic
  4. Access to fauna databases
  5. Access to plant databases
  6. Key source discoveries and article finding and delivery
  7. Data processing-converting data to information by modern computer-based procedures
  8. Access to the Rural System, Inc. library
  9. Access to expert knowledge bases
  10. Access to maps (traditional one from Landsat, SPOT and others)
  11. Access to photographs, movie, and TV clips (e.g., for multimedia work)
  12. Unique electronic "publications" which we call "chunks."

We can pump data into our hand-held field computer with a global positioning satellite unit in the forest stand via cellular phone to a data receiver, then directly into a statistical analysis package. The results, once in a file, are fed into a text file which, in final form with color maps, goes over the Internet to a corporate headquarters where a land sale decision is being made. This unusual new flow of knowledge (field observation to decision-aid in a day) is of interest and we can and will gladly provide such services but we have many other more well-known capabilities for rich returns from the world's knowledge stores because we have:

The Market

We propose typically to serve:

Our work is done in 3-stages. It is rare that customers appreciate how much time they personally spend in literature searches or, frankly, the worth of their personal time. (If a person making $28,000 a year works for 200 days a year, they have to be worth at least $17.50 per hours.) A week in the library can amount to high costs (a minimum of $700) to an agency or to a client. Ability to cut costs or outbid a competitor makes use of The WKB services essential. The 3 stages are needed because we need to show each customer what they get for fees charged at each level. Each client needs to see what they will get (and assess how much more is needed). Each needs to judge the potentials of our group to meet real needs (which only the client can appraise.)

We have a base charge. This pays for administration, analysis of the request, and a preliminary search. (We may find nothing, but a client will be told where we looked and that, in itself, is worth a lot to the serious worker-and risk taker.) We then estimate the work and costs likely in each level. This is no more than rational bidding, seeking to meet needs rapidly at reasonable costs. (An expedited service including fax, e-mail and courier service is available.) In some cases, only level 1 or 2 service will be suggested based on the apparent knowledge available.

A WKB team will conduct interviews and several unique Delphi-based analyses (expert consultations toward consensus) are also available. Our services are discrete and we follow a strict code of privacy and confidentiality. Our staff are pledged to support client interests and to non-disclosure, except as permitted.

Some of our studies over time are published as Rural System, Inc. documents. When a request is made and it can be answered by an in-house document already available, this document will be supplied at cost and no other fees will be charged.

Our services increase. Savings in costs of searches previously made are passed on to customers. We can arrange for major tax deductions and gift benefits for personal natural resource libraries that are contributed to the Foundation for use in Rural System, Inc.

To The Customer Here's are some ideas about what we can do together...

1. Just write or call. Much work needs to be personally and carefully done to meet your needs. Have an idea? We'll try to help.

2. Call us for a bibliography, for example, on Lyme disease.

3. Subscribe to WKB's Seek/Find service. You subscribe, fill in a list of topics on which you work and we'll alert you to new articles in your field(s). You may then order the article(s) and we'll fax, e-mail, or send them by conventional mail.

4. Order a report on a topic of interest, for example, the characteristics of warm-season grasses.

5. Clear the file. Convert that old data set into some useful statistics. We'll enter data, analyze it appropriately, and give you a report. You can write it up. We'll also do the front-end "literature review," almost impossible for the person in the remote field station.

6. Let us show you how to use the wildlife information systems that now exist in 20 states. Jeff L. Waldon, a Principal within the WKB, has promoted wildlife information systems throughout the U.S. and world and (a) can assist any state or nation in creating a wildlife information system, or (b) the WKB can provide a cost-effective alternative: a privatized central service for individuals or several states operating in a consortium.

7. Need an expert(s) on Topic X? We'll send you a list that you can contact for availability, fees, and ability to meet your specific needs.

8. Use our unique knowledge bases on:

We have excellent contacts for local work in India, People's Republic of China, Nigeria, Senegal, and Columbia and we are expanding these. We customize our services to your needs.

The range of services that we can supply is:

  1. Providing assistance in study design
  2. Performing statistical analyses
  3. Preparing computer maps
  4. Cleaning files - moving the thousands of dollars spent on studies into notes and reports
  5. Preparing select bibliographies
  6. Keeping you up-to-date on publications in your area (lists or actual article reprints)
  7. Preparing literature reviews for research proposals or projects
  8. Preparing timely background reports for court cases
  9. Answering site-specific questions (millions) about wildlife
  10. Preparing a book on a select topic as a memorial to a loved one or as a grand gift to a family member or corporate leader
  11. Gaining literature and translations from select other countries
  12. Putting you in touch with world-class experts on a topic
  13. Delivering comprehensive environmental plans from The Trevey, documents that synthesize knowledge
  14. Preparing unique area-specific computer maps
  15. Preparing indigenous-people and folk knowledge surveys
  16. Developing computer models of managerial relevance.

We do little work in chemistry, physics, or the arts. Our work in law is limited to those laws relevant to a natural resource topic, rarely case law. Our interests and abilities span those of a large modern Land-Grant University. We welcome inquiries.

We can provide electronic delivery. We guarantee responses and have unique crisis teams to prepare materials in unbelievably short periods.

We are a not-for-profit group but we are operating to improve decisions, to reduce the waste, "grief," and costs of hours and hours spent in often-ineffective library searches. We're in the business to reduce duplication, to increase effective replication of studies, to assist in directing future studies, to prevent the loss of field data and information gained at such high costs and risks. We are growing in our capabilities in developing formal "expert systems" and in artificial intelligence. We operate with EXSYS expert system shell and two other types of software with expert system configuration, CRITERIUM, and AskSam.

We invite donations of library resources from natural resource specialists to our growing knowledge base. We invite cooperative involvement of companies developing improved library and information equipment and services. We can be a testing and prototype development center. We are proud that our library searchers, our specially-trained staff, are usually enrolled in a university program in natural resources. They benefit financially to assist in the high costs of their education, they learn, and also become more competent employees for future corporations and agencies.

We propose to study and participate in aggregated Internet-based scientific journals. We offer materials in many formats including the many potentials for e-book publication via the CD (contact: ">Mr. Hayward Shepard ).

Market Analysis

Rapid changes in agency structure, the rise of consulting services for agencies, and reduced research funding has created new needs for rapid delivery of information. Libraries under financial pressure need use-rates as part of their accountability documents. Wildland enterprises arise and competition forces them to seek new or different sources of information.

The U.S. Forest Service Information Center at Athens, Georgia, has more requests than they can meet and are willing to relay to us some of these. Several corporations have their own library service centers but agencies have been unable to stabilize the libraries of the size, diversity, and complexity needed to meet wildland resource personnel needs. There are needs for information that is not being met, so the "need" is ignored. The market appears to be large, but unknown, because of the impediments in the past and the electronic media now available for delivery.

An email received in January, 2000:

From: Susan Musante

To: Natural Resources Librarians List

I work at the Ecological Society of America and I am assisting in coordinating a new cluster of ecology and botany titles to be offered through the JSTOR archive. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the scholarly community take advantage of advances in electronic technology. JSTOR is creating an archive of the back files of core scholarly journals and improved access to those back files (for more information about JSTOR:

The above note suggests only one relatively new source for rapid access and delivery of information to the field for modest costs. Many new resources become available almost daily and new delivery devices also are available.

Costs will relate to the role of the WKB in serving other aspects of the Rural System, Inc. development. The "Pessimistic" option is a break-even venture; "Likely" is profitable, especially since it will support at low-costs the other development in Ranging, Inc. The "Optimistic" estimate is not "maximum" but believed reasonable within 2 years with quality advertising and promotion.

Marketing and Sales Activities

The clients have been listed above. The advertising will be:

Operations and Organization Rural System, Inc. hires a manager. University Library faculty (two have expressed interest) serve as consultants.
University students and others are employed as searchers/writers.
Affiliation with information providers is begun.
Affiliation with the National Technological Information Service (NTIS) is established.
A distinctive team procedure developed by Giles is used with standard formats, citations, word processing, file management, and editing.
Progressively lowered costs are expected as a system of effective library searching, use, note taking, scanning, and processing is developed.
A senior staff member reviews reports for clarity and format before being sent.
Marketing is by the marketing group of Rural System, Inc. until expansion within the WKB seems to justify an internal group.


Costs are for staffing and advertising ($ 80,000). The anticipated markets and gross annual income (e.g., 40 products, one/week @ $1000)

The Foresters

Similar to "Tree Farmers," perhaps in minor competition with them, The Foresters is a local organization for the staff, associates, colleagues, school children, and anyone interested in forests and forestry ... all of the forest-related topics related to Pivotal Tracts and their problems, values, management, and use.

Membership fees provide tours, annual conference, advantages in clothing purchases, book and equipment purchases, web site access, recreational advantages, and discounts on Rural System, Inc. services. This is an organization for the people interested in and involved with any and all aspects of Rural System, Inc. (but mostly the forests) and a means to promote the forests, reward successes, and increase communications. It may become affiliated with Pivots and Nature Folks. Income is from membership fees, advertising, conferences, tours and commissions on publication and book sales.


Estimated start-up costs are $30,000. Profits, with 1000 members:

Next section.

Perhaps you will share ideas with me
about some of the topic(s) above at

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

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