Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

The Outstretched Hand
Self-controls and a
Regulations Strategy

later link to I and E topics

Most people with whom Rural System works "love" their lands. After land is brought under management, that feeling grows. Rural System, and especially its Forestry Group, will assist wherever possible in spreading the good news about modern comprehensive forestry. However, we encourage conversations, tours for friends, and appearances at public meetings at which forestry and land management are topics. We can demonstrate and encourage improved practices.

At least we can remove and speak out against the simple bad practices:

  1. Putting the brush piles from preparing a site for reforestation up and down the slope (across is better)
  2. Removing top soil and leaf litter
  3. Planting up- and down-hill
  4. Leaving open temporary roads and skid trails
  5. Leaving trash, laps, and "bad scenes," especially where the public can readily see them
  6. Making roads too steep
  7. Trying to convert wetlands and stream edges to pine stands

But we must think beyond the simple practices and take other influential action.

We can encourage high-profit, long-term total forest and rural systems because it will have very positive effects on water, wildlife, scenery, and the quality of life of the general public. We can seek a more judicious application of forest, cropland, and livestock knowledge to the small- as well as large-land-owner through private means. We believe this application can be greater than through government support and by under-staffed agencies. Dynamic planning systems such as developed within The Trevey includes prediction, and this can lead to greater land owner/manager confidence, reduced frustrations, reduced financial risks, and a higher overall quality of life.

Controls over rural land practice (e.g., use of forests) entail penalties, both public and private. On the other hand, they bestow benefits upon all concerned. On another hand, there are good reasons for preferring self-regulation. On yet another hand, there is strong economic justification for social controls. A combination of the approaches can be advocated convincingly. We clearly see, however, that freedom from regulation is in many ways desirable. President Truman is said to have longed for a one-handed economist advisor. There is a many-handed alien afoot in the forest and across the rural lands!

We oppose regulation of private land when such lands are well managed by professional foresters and rural and natural resource specialists, especially comprehensive rural system managers. Regulation can slow progress, average-out land performance rather than maximize benefits over time, and increase costs beyond established gains. For example, regulations relating to water pollution need to be cast with the knowledge that 10 percent of non-point pollution is related to forest practices, 80 percent to site preparation. Unless more forest land is brought under management, then public outcry over abuses of forests will continue (and even increase) and regulations (such as in at least 16 states) will grow.

Over time, with other land owners, we need to join hands, at least shake hands often, to help -- and gain help -- from the smaller landowners, loggers, and operators of many types.

When legislation arises we need to be sure that the details are included, not left to a board or commission at a later date. We need to work with agencies to assure that they are staffed by experienced and well-educated people that are actively involved in a personal program of education.

Staff of Rural System believe in private, personal control of rural land without federal or state regulation. There are difficulties when lands are not managed well, when fire, disease, and erosion effects neighbors. There are difficulties when land use or its condition affect economic development, but we realize that this has been poorly documented and rarely has an effort been made to account for the wind, air, water, wildlife, and scenic benefits and values of privately-owned forests. A complete "hands-off" policy for forest regulation, while it sounds good, is no more feasible than expecting driving rules to work on public highways. Rules have been rejected on the federal scene in 1910, 1923, 1938, and 1952. A positive approach may be adequate, since rules are missing, The approach with which we are left is that of many people demonstrating superior, profitable rural land management long into the future.

We hold that for most land (and we'll name the exceptions) the highest costs of regulation and control can readily be met and overcome by the improved financial gains from lands under intensive management by Rural System. Where these costs are reduced or resisted, then greater personal gains can be made when land is intensively, wisely managed. We argue that the consumers of wood and farm products does not pay for regulation costs as is so often glibly stated. Consumers can buy elsewhere, change products, consume less. The landowner has little flexibility and so pays the costs of regulation. They are not passed on to the consumer. For this reason, alone, resisting regulation is as important a strategy in comprehensive profitable forest and similar land management as building sound stream crossings.

At the very fine scale, elements of regulations almost seem trivial (but have sweeping, large scale effects). We need to provide advice and influence. For example, failing to classify roads can result in silly regulations -- either excessively great or worthless -- for major haul roads and dirt jeep trails. Self-imposed rules and regulations may seem like a cost and that they will put a person at a serious competitive disadvantage. This may occur, but if the rules result in greater long-term profits than those of the apparent "competitor" they can be justified. In addition, from self-regulation there are the advantages that occur to the landowner and to the community of which they are a member.

We recommend against legal action in most situations, but occasionally it is needed to stop an action, start a change in a regulation, or allow justice. Rural System works with a group of people experienced in forest and environmental legislation and we will attempt to arrange conferences and service as appropriate.

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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