Rural System's

The Border

Rural and Urban


The urban and regional border is a place of growing conflict and difficult problems. As homes and shopping malls proliferate, the United States loses about 6,000 acres of open space every day , four acres per minute. Now the Forest Service (2007) is developing a national strategy to protect and conserve open space. The strategy will form partnerships with private landowners (said then-Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell).

Resource managers at the border (the wildland-urban interface) are challenged by the homes and activities that present needs and obstacles to what they can do as managers. Paved surfaces change the flow of rainwater, roads and road barriers intersect animals' areas, curbs present barriers to small amphibians and reptiles, and free-ranging pets create special problems for birds and small animals (and are prey for others).

The cities and towns are said to be encroaching on the rural area; the rural area with its noises, odors, and unsightly and unplanned conditions are said to be infringing on urban quality of life. Whether from the urban responding outward or the rural responding inward, there is work ahead.

Some are the problems and potentials are called those of the ecotone by ecologists. We see the Border as a special area needing intensive care and management. The people there need education, attitude adjustments, and new knowledge with behaviors. The lands and plant and animal populations need special treatment and new care. The conflicts need to be predicted and prevented from arising or reduced in scope and costs.

Rural System has been formed for the rural areas and so its initial perspective has been that of providing benefits for people of the rural area. The Border addresses the conditions and problems at the edge of cities and continues to leave (as much as possible) to experts of the inner city and town. It has much to offer there but must set some limits for many reasons, chief being profitability, marketing, and "span of control." The diverse objectives of people of the inner city are rarely precise enough for effective systems work.

Past emphasis has been on bringing the Rural System idea and solutions to rural residents. The Borders emphasis is on selling Rural System services and messages to urban dwellers, the primary market for the benefits being developed.

As species of animal populations change with distance from one type of vegetation (A moving to the right) and species common the the B area decline with distance (shown as to the left), the sum of the species near the center of the ecotone can be seen as the red line. This has been called the edge effect. It is like the problem set at the urban/rural border.
The Border coordinates and sells the activities of the following groups (and others) to meet urban problems and situations:

  1. Gardens - objective one per yard with fence and protected compost pit
  2. Bird houses and feeders and catered bird seed supply
  3. Urban parks - full array of services, ecological and other wise, to reduce pest damage, faunal problems
  4. Landscape, soundscape and odorscape issues
  5. Arborist - promoting arboretum, tree care throughout cities,
  6. Pest Force - all functions for individuals and community contracts
  7. Raccoon Group - specialized pest problems
  8. The Deer Group - specialized pest problems - policies and population control
  9. Wildland Walkers - planned hiking paths through cities (perhaps with guides and security services
  10. The Fishery for ponds and streams
  11. Open areas, slivers of land, and "open lots" as Rural System Tracts
  12. Yards Group
  13. The Zoo Group - advising or developing marketing and special international programs.
  14. The Tours Group meeting the needs of citizens from and to both areas.
  15. The Advance - assisting the courts in providing supervised meaningful outdoor work for those assigned "community service."

Software development for urban areas in all of the above may be possible. Border can become the center of computer-based instruction (and aids) in all aspects of faunal system management to meet rapidly changing needs in extension, fisheries and wildlife programs and ecology groups. Distance learning courses with their software may be sold to universities (e.g., urban faunal management ) and to urban staff for specialized conflict "solutions" (e.g., deer problems).


Problems for gardeners in the Border may loom. A December 2007 note:

California has created a set of guidelines - Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) – that include growing practices that discourage biodiversity and sustainable/organic farming methods, deplete soil fertility, and create “sterile” fields; their new rules require testing water monthly and keeping animals off of farmland. These methods have not been scientifically proven actually to reduce E. coli 0157 bacteria but are certain to reduce biodiversity, harm wildlife, and burden family-scale farms.

Furter work will be required in work with Virginia's rule, modeled after a 1981 case in Hawaii, saying that a neighbor can't sue a tree owner for the little annoying things -- "casting shade or dropping leaves, flowers, or fruit." But it's a different story if the tree becomes a nuisance. The owner of a nuisance tree may be held responsible for harm caused to adjoining property ... (e.g.,roots breaking patio, limb falling on roof0, and may also be required to cut back the encroaching branches or roots, assuming the encroaching vegetation constitutes a nuisance.

See effects of urbanization on forest management.

A special type of border is that between residences (all types) and public lands. By Forest Service estimates (2009), the number of OHVs (off-highway-vehicle) motoring through national forests has increased from about 3 million in 1993 to about 11 million today. BLM estimates that one-third of the 50 million visitors to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) units each year are now off-roaders.Part of the increase can be traced to population growth: About 41 million people now live within 200 miles of federal lands, and about half of those live within 30 miles of a public land unit, according to BLM.

See Vandalism re parks

See Urban Wildlife Note.

Urban Ecology notes

See Society for Organic Urban Landcare

A file of a set of Urban dialogs is available.

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
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Robert H. Giles, Jr.
September 29, 2007