The Callahan Creek Initiative
Building up from Managing an Impaired Stream and Its Watershed
A Personal Proposal by R.H. Giles, Founder of Rural System for Discussion
Virginians have a problem.
We have polluted streams that can make us sick and cost us dearly, but we have a national law that says we have to clean them up… and little money to do so. The Callahan Creek Initiative, stimulated by the law, starts the cleanup and provides a demonstration for improved water quality (reduced TMDLs) in moderately impaired streams throughout the Virginia coalfield. Also the Initiative offers means to maintain and continue that change for the future with no tax allocation. Such costly improvements are now impossible (without a significant change) within present economic conditions. The western Virginia, 18-thousand-acre watershed with 1,100 people suffers pollution from several sources and a plan is required for water quality improvements. Taking The Initiative is part of that plan. It analyzes the conditions, relates them in three dimensions (GIS-GPS), and optimizes an attack, reducing suspended solids by 30% and dissolved solids by over 10% by year three. That enterprise continues to manage the land and water for the owners’ and public’s financial benefit. Coal operators and residents avoid legal action from non-compliance with the Clean Water act, a control program is stabilized, ownership’s productivity is enhanced by over 20%, meaningful employment is increased, and the local net tax base is improved. A proposed local landowners’ revolving fund of $900,000 can pay for some treatments and creates a diverse for-profit conglomerate, Rural System, Inc. The Initiative demonstrates an initial government-private partnership that reduces stream pollution at low taxpayer cost and prepares to expand cost effectively to other impaired and healthy watersheds.
Herein are preliminary ideas for Rural System to assist in developing the required TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) "implementation plan" for this stream in western Virginia. A group is formed and we restore and maintain the integrity of the watershed and its waters. That means measuring, then reducing significantly most of the pollutants, and then developing and implementing a procedure to do that continuously.
The Situation …
There is little time left to gain for future people a fit environment. We are attacked by large forces of climate change, fossil fuel limits, species endangerment, quality ground water limits, a rising human population, a reclining human population in rural areas, looming food shortages, and combined environmental problems. Rural System, Inc. and the Initiative can get started to counter attack. I want your help. I’ve described it in a free Internet book . The principles therein can be helpful in achieving the desired "stage-2" TMDL document and subsequently its desired results. We have to reduce three things – dirt and stuff in the water, a bacterium that causes bad diarrhea, and dissolved harmful chemicals in the water – that’s all, and do it with no money… tomorrow, and develop a profitable system allowing us to continue into the future.
That future is now clear and the need for abundant water of high quality is been shaped by late 2010 findings:
A team of researchers studying freshwater sustainability in the U.S. have found that the Southeast, with the exception of Florida, does not have enough water capacity to meet its own needs. A paper just published in a special issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reinforces predictions of water scarcity. Researchers calculated that no more than 40 percent of freshwater resources can be appropriated for human use, to ensure that stream flow variability, navigation, recreation and ecosystem use are accommodated. They also determined how much water a region would need to meet all its municipal, agricultural and industrial needs—its virtual water footprint (VWF). The VWF includes the water needed if a region were to grow enough food to support its own population. The researchers found that neither the Southwest nor the Southeast have enough water capacity to meet all their own needs. "The Southeast has virtually no positive, inland VWFs," pointed out a University of Georgia participant in the study.
Taking The Callahan Creek Initiative provides a TMDL plan, starts implementing it, provides a system for future work, and gives a demonstration for other similar watersheds with their TMDL limits.
A Personal Introduction …
Professor emeritus, College of Natural Resources for 38 years, retired in ’98, creating a novel business, a conglomerate, a new paradigm in large area management. I’m well published, former Chairman of the Blacksburg Planning Commission, having Western US as well as international experience. I’m incorporated, and willing to donate my modest investments and time in making Callahan Creek watershed a demonstration area for new life in the Central Appalachian coalfield. A large comprehensive approach as a system is needed. Solving the water quality problems of such watersheds is an essential component of future publically-supported land management. Being as clear as possible, my objectives are (1) meaningful regional employment, (2) community stability, and (3) improving natural resource management. The index for achieving these three is long-term profit that is shared between land owners and the Rural System corporation.
The Clean Water Act provides for any individual or organization potentially impacted by developing and implementating a TMDL plan to participate in the procedures. I’m "not from here," no longer a Tech professor, and not with the Powell River Project. A Virginian from birth and resident the past 45 years, I’ve worked with graduate students in Wise Co. for 8 years with a study contract with Penn Virginia Resource Co., Duffield. I helped get the Powell River Project started. I know your 18,423 acres of the Callahan Creek watershed. I was a state wildlife biologist in the ‘60s. I created GIS maps before they were called that, did GIS work for Wise Co. in the late ‘70s, and served the State Corporation System in power line impact controversies. I worked with Permac, Buchanan Co., on mine impact studies. I’m corresponding with the Clearfork Community Center, Egan, Tennessee, a coalfield community. I’m actually and potentially impacted by the draft TMDL.
The Solution… The Criteria for Knowing When We Have One
- Reasonable cost, given history and current economy
- Using available technology
- Using past research, studies, and local knowledge
- Treating condition and processes producing the undesirable parts of the pollution "loads"
- Optimizing sets of treatments to affect maximum-load components
- Employing efficiencies
- Diversifying approaches
- Having a reasonable planning horizon
- Providing economic and other incentives to halt pollution
- Having adequate attention to likely future land use and technology changes
- Sensitive to residents’ needs and interests
- Showing preparation for continued long-term action to avoid exceeding TMDLs
- Creating a system that does not have to be re-invented for managing TMDL systems of similar watersheds
Point Pollution Reduction
While laws and the courts can assist in removing point pollution, it is such a significant part of the water problem that it must be confronted directly in the field. The potentially harmful bacteria in water must be stopped at their source, held on the land, filtered by the stream sides, and bubbled within the stream itself. Failure to do so makes other aspects of water quality improvement seem unreal, impossible to achieve accountability, and wasteful (as in treating other diseases in a cancer patient who is near death). It has to be done through water conservation, sewer line hookups, well-managed septic tanks, well designed and managed pollution evaporation lagoons, and innovative methane sources and nutrient sinks. Each of these has costs to land owners not unlike those typically charged for related services in cities. Citizens must bear the costs of life in their selected places for business or life. The future energy costs will increase for these services; they need to be fixed now. The removal of a major source of e. coli pollutant is essential and this requires point-source closures and management. A net positive financial status for a point-solution system can probably be created. A Group within Rural System will develop a proposal for such a removal system and contract the work. It must be internally funded to be self supporting for the future, a demonstration for similar developments in the region, and a positive image builder for coal mining that is increasingly under public scrutiny in the peak-oil and climate-change era. It is appropriate to suppress the point- pollution as soon as possible. Owners must, upon leaving, see their land as a place suitable for future people where the waters for wading will not make them sick.
Point pollution control is often discussed as removing "pipe" sources. Rarely are culverts, the large corrugated metal drain pipes under roads included in such discussions. US Forest Service studies reveal the major sources of sediment (the major part of so-called TSS or suspended solids) within watersheds are from roads and their corridors. Operators must be encouraged to study and improve the road network of the uplands, reducing length and slopes of runs between culverts, vegetating and stabilizing all roadside banks, and assuring all culverts are well installed with adequate dispersal of down-slope energy of each, and all with well designed stream crossings. This can be done by cooperative operators. We can provide recommendations and guidance.
Non-point sources are many, varied, widespread, and have socio-economic as well as environmental dimensions difficult to address. We know we have a problem. The evidence is in the chemistry and analytical tools and in the life known-to-be affected in the water. Society knows what it wants and has said so, approximately: "fishable and swimmable" high quality waters (with many criteria). I think we want that for Callahan Creek, "full of life and opportunity." That means to clean up, stabilize stream banks, reduce pollutants (suspended solids, e. coli bacteria, and dissolved solids (and soon herbicides, pesticides, and medicines), improve conditions and structure, and stabilize a desired flow. That costs money and there is little in this era. It can be done and needs to be done because the Creek is vital to Appalachia and to the future of the region. It can be the centerpiece of new employment, nearby community stability, and improved natural resource management. State and federal funds seem unavailable and if present, unlikely to be adequate for lasting operations, including those for the post-mining environment. The non-point pollution needs to be attacked following a GIS analysis of the watershed and its surrounding land by a fairly conventional forest and wildlife approach including:
- a planned series of "wildlife ponds" serving as catchment basins as well as biodiversity enhancement
- A planned series of constructed "bogs," chip and organic debris-filled basins
- new evaluation of abandoned mine treatment strategies
- riparian "volume" treatment and management throughout the watershed
- rail and roadside bank stabilization and vegetation treatment policy
- modern road stream-crossing design and structures
- timber stand improvement practices for the future forest
- reforestation where feasible, especially of high-value species
- evaluation of periods of vehicle use of roads and sites
- Designated wild fauna forests (steepness and inaccessibility)
- in-channel stair-step reconstruction
- within-watershed plant nursery
- stocking of native stream life species in year 3
- select-wood harvesting for raw material for new enterprises (topics, fences, sculptures, signs, wildlife boxes)
- a monitoring and reporting system to display progress both in actions and in their estimated effects
- a publication (and secondary use on a web site) on our objectives, efforts, and accomplishments, and planned future)
- enhancing existing practices at 84 permitted mining discharges and at sediment basin outlets
Much of the above can be done by re-assigned staff of existing organizations and operations within the watershed. There is more to do in a short time than can be reasonably done by existing organizations and current staff and funding. We can develop a special use permit and Memorandum of Understanding for agencies and companies working together toward implementing the desired TMDL and achieving a vital watershed with special provisions of the abandoned mined lands. Rural System, Inc. can provide the central operations and management and will submit a detailed proposal to that effect with shared start-up charges being based on proportion of the area of the watershed under ownership. A capsule of Rural System is in the appendix. The capsule, more briefly:
Rural System, Inc. is a conglomerate business and foundation that unifies 60 small rural- and natural-resource-related businesses. It contracts with private rural landowners, most of them absentee owners, and comprehensively manages their land and water, providing new services, products, and other benefits. It shares with each owner profits from the total conglomerate. It offers new employment and a community tax base by using computers and the Internet in the business end of the work by (1) gaining financial payoffs in planning, decision-making, gaining efficiencies; (2) using sequenced value-adding strategies, and (3) using its computer maps and data bases. Like share-cropping or a big lawn service, it develops rural land for sustained annual land-owner profits for the long run. Land unit clusters become part of the worldwide franchise meeting growing energy, environmental, and human needs.
The small businesses or enterprises within the system, each call a "Group" are part of a system with:
The emphasis needs to be made: Rural System brings the land under long term management and sustains profits from the entire system that it operates, both on and off the land. Rural system is designed for long-term profits for all participants. Start-up funds (est. at $1 million from all participants) are returned or added to the system by land owner participants. Additional foundation and government funds are sought for studies and small-business developments.
There are roughly 5 Sectors for discussing the Groups:
- System Central (administrative and common services, GIS, marketing, accounting, legal))
- The Land Force (working on all properties as a team)
- A Foundation (research, education, and conservation projects)
- Affiliates (existing cooperating enterprises)
With volunteers, part-time and full time employees, the Initiative would start the following groups, all in a system to achieve the funds and maintain them for achieving the desired TMDL and other watershed benefits for the future.
- Wildlife, Fisheries, and Nature
- Sports and Recreation
- Products and Communications
The Pasture and Range Group seems inseparable from The Fence Group (below). It designs and develops superior pastures for livestock of several types using GIS and soils knowledge to achieve superior grass production and pasture and range conditions (e.g., water and wind protection) for animal systems that will be profitable. A group may develop a switchgrass-based biomass unit.
- The Carbon Market studies the carbon sequestration policies and opportunities for carbon credits throughout forestry, gardening, and rangeland and pasture developments. It studies carbon estimates for water, soil, litter, grasslands and crops, and forests and collects or creates models for pictures of likely carbon stored up or "sequestered" within each ownership over time. It advises on carbon credits for land owners and how they best fit in land use and energy and financial budget optimization.
- The Garden Group works with agroforestry concepts, promotes "victory gardens," employs alpha earth, uses designed fences, beautifies and enhances land value, and participates in the work of Odorscapes and Viewscapes. It develops specialty gardens such as those for ferns and daylilies.
- The Moss Group grows moss for floral uses. It is designed in part as competition to remove pressure on wild mosses being exploited. It caters to specialized moss, fern, bamboo, kale, broccoli, and aquatic garden sites.
- The Yards Group unifies work with the pasture and range group, garden group, sculptors, and fence group to produce and manage pleasant grassy areas around rural structures.
- The Blueberry Patch produces blueberries on GIS-selected sites, and then provides specialized markets for large volumes from widely-distributed growing sites. The Patch is an under-stated system. It is created for private profit, employment opportunities, and heightened value of land that makes it especially worthwhile tending well. It is more than a "patch," really a system of patches and the total system that includes them. Blueberries can be grown well and we add and enhance value to these products of the land.
- Alpha Earth is an enterprise developing superior soils from waste products, sawdust, earthworm action, and thinned forest products.
- The Vineyards are GIS-selected areas growing grape cultivars selected to produce grapes for sale to local wine producers. Regionally dispersed, the sites provide local income.
- The Stables provides services for horse owners, trail rides, training areas, and relates to Alpha Earth
- The Goats System works for improved goat herds worldwide, develops wildfire services, works for improved pastures and quality dairy products widely marketed. Goats are more efficient than cows in forage energy use for milk production, survive bad range or forage years better than cows (thus reducing entrepreneurial risks and boom-or-bust situations), can improve the range, and have more stable benefits than cows. They do require more manual labor than cows, but this is appropriate in some areas where there is surplus labor and/or where an active life outdoor life is viewed as one having high quality.
- The Rabbit Group is profitable through widely dispersed, very-small operations within a single large system. Small livestock such as rabbits have in common the characteristic that they are relatively undemanding in their feeding requirements and easy to house and manage. They provide the same products and services as larger livestock, such as cattle, but are less risky, are easier to replace as they are not costly and reproduce faster. By optimizing the management of the animals as well as the integration of the animals into the farming system, the total production of the farm can increase considerably. They offer regular cash income throughout the year for youth and others.
- The Forest Group affiliates with existing forest inventory and management enterprises, helps market their services and expands on their potentials by the Tours Group, Nature Folks, Certification Group, Fire Force, and others. It has a primary role in dealing with the part of Rural System Tracts with trees and can be a major income source. Their general role is thinning and reshaping the forest, protecting the neighboring communities and their watershed, and supplying pulp and timber to local mills. Their role in increasing financial productivity over the long run is notable.
- 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 Rural System enterprise environments and their problems, values, benefits, management, and use. It is a means to promote the forests, reward successes, and increase communications. The Group provides tours, annual conference, advantages in clothing, book, and equipment purchases, web site access, recreational advantages, and discounts on Rural System services. It may become affiliated with the groups Right Rural and Nature Folks. Income is from membership fees, advertising, conferences, tours, and commissions on publication and book sales.
- The Firewood Group provides superior dried species-specific firewood to the urban and residential market from small managed forest tracts.
- The Fire Force as part of the Land Force deals with prescriptive burning for some select silvicultural needs and above all provides a superior emergency attack crew against rural fires, typically non-structure fires. It engages in prevention, clearing buildings from threats, and serves as a local "hot-shot" crew for rapid attack of fires. It continually monitors the literature and develops software for new insights into fire behavior, arsonists, and attack efficiency.
- Walnut Vales is a group using GIS to locate superior black walnut growing sites and it then attempts to secure or rent such sites and to develop superior well- spaced trees for nut-fruit production as well as furniture wood. It develops sites, gatherers, husking centers, waste disposal and alternatives uses, and manages the sites for balanced superior wood as well as nut products.
- The Arborist Group specializes in work with individual trees, especially those of the residential and rural village landscape. Involved with tree health, it is developing wildlife habitats, reducing convective energy losses from buildings, recycling leaves and debris, and finding alternative ways for enhancing land value.
- Stoneworms is a trail building and maintenance group. It relates with national and international trails but builds trails on local lands that provide for recreation, education, and solitude. Hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking are specialty trails.
- The Wilderness Group helps use such areas locally that occur on state and federal lands. It is keen to note private tracts that have wilderness-like characteristics and to seek reasonable protection for such areas in the midst of intensively managed forests on adjacent land. It is a key unit for many members of Nature Folks. It sponsors wilderness tours and events with that Group.
- The Viewscape Group works with a concept of the rural culture that it maps, describes, quantifies, develops scenes, themes, current scene scores, dynamics of the scores, a county beauty index, and a procedure to negotiate balancing losses and gains in natural beauty that may result from proposed development. The land of the region is beautiful but that beauty can be enhanced. Even more important, it must be managed so that it is not diminished and so that the full messages of the Rural System and of a system of total land management can be carried forward onto other lands. Staff develops plans, policies, and procedures for esthetic enhancement and management that will give the lands of the enterprise a personality and will assure benefactors that their lands will be similarly treated. Not another 'park service' or 'forest service' appearance, the new 'look' of the Rural System Tracts shows care, attention to studied concepts of natural beauty, cost effective work, diversity, sustainability, durability, and functional amendments to views and scenes.
- Nature Folks is a membership organization like the Audubon Society. It has many special-interest parts listed below. It caters to people with diverse interests in nature, in unusual spots, in wilderness, in invertebrates and "creepy places." It manages an electronic bulletin, conducts tours, and promotes studies of phenology (the timing of biological events such as flower burst and leaf fall).
- NatureSeen collects observations of nature unreported elsewhere. Electronic storage at low cost allows nature observers worldwide to prevent the loss of unique observations. A search procedure allows subscribers to benefit from these usually-singular observations that may form a pattern over many reports over time. A rich, novel curiosity, the reports offer unlimited ideas a story fodder for writers.
- Coyote of Nature Folks conducts tours of areas to observe coyotes and foxes, usually using electronic recorders at night. It builds a community interested in the wild canids of the world and sponsors tours to build life-lists (akin to well-known bird life lists).
- The Owls Group conducts local evening tours for bus-loads of people with dinner, owls being called up on managed Rural System enterprise environments, and all followed by evening entertainment. Owl research is sponsored and tours arranged for those seeking a life-list maximum for seeing the owls of the world. Sculptured owls are sold from The Sculptors.
- Prospectors is the geology enterprise. It works with GIS maps, collaborates with soils specialists, conducts educational tours, and provides specialized groundwater and mineral resource analyses for Rural System Tract owners.
- The Plant People of Nature Folks specialize in the non-tree wild plants. It creates special gardens, conducts tours, sells plants and products, and sponsors art and poetry contests. It monitors plants, caters to knowledge of the plant populations of wilderness areas, and promotes life-list progress for members.
- The Butterfly Band is the insect- and arthropod-oriented group within Nature Folks. It deals with pest species but caters to bees and honey production, biological supply house products, and tours for those making collections and additions to life lists.
- The Fishery is a large and diverse group with separate talents for pond and lake work as well as those for stream and river work. It builds communities of managed farm ponds within an area, offering diverse private land opportunities for recreation as well as food. It sells opportunities, film, supplies, memberships, guide services and educational materials, does analyses of ponds, lakes, and streams, and markets to trail and wilderness interests. It conducts a growing wild-fish life-list building enterprise with aquarium and equipment sales.
- The Healthy Streams Group requires unifying many Groups and their functions. It improves streams and builds a Stream Improvement Credit bank. When streams are damaged by highway and related developments, developers must overcome the damage, mitigate it, or buy stream credits from such approved banks. This Group improves streams, and operates such a bank. It employs the Portaqua system for many purposes such as organic garden irrigation.
- The Drinking Water Group works to achieve quality water within relevant regions, and specifically good waters on managed lands of Rural System.
- The Raccoon Group is new because few people realize the complexity and relations of the system of that animal. The need is for applying the findings of many studies, not just on the biology of the animal alone (the past trend) but on the total profitable enterprise. The prospects are not for recreational trapping (strongly opposed by some) but for a viable, profitable enterprise utilizing one of the natural products of the Rural System enterprise environments … in ways no one else has been able to sustain in the past. This is a single species system, one related not only to furs but also several types of hunting and related hunting dogs and population management in forests and wetlands.
- The Bobcat Group is a wild felid-oriented group with memberships, conferences, tours, and active management of select areas. This group, perhaps more so than other groups concentrates on studies of the animal and its environmental needs. Clearly associated with wilderness and the furbearer groups, the cat resource is important to tourists, hikers, and others seeking outdoor experiences.
- The Wild Turkey Group is single-species oriented. It serves Avi in some areas but is primarily for bird watchers and hunters. Guided tours are conducted to permanent blinds. Memberships include tours, publications, records, equipment reports, life history and ecology work.
- Official Avi: A Bird-Watching Sport has also been called "bird golf or Avigolf" It is developed on a few select Rural System enterprise environments. Users pay a fee to use the course and after describing their abilities and the characteristics of the day and date, a "par" is computer produced. Participants play against past scores or competitors, seeking to see all of the birds of the area. A score is obtained. Life lists of birds seen on all such Avi courses expand the play internationally.
Sports and Recreation
- The Wildland Crew is more than one crew. These are adults having common guided experiences in that they have built or developed wildland structures or engaged in useful projects. These are typically 3-day outdoor experiences with meaningful exercise, team work, recreation, and lasting memorable experiences. Each group has unique experiences but bonds are formed with other crews.
- The 4 x 4 Group has great interest in off-road vehicles. It is an organization that sponsors safety, care of the wildlands, special events and tours, and does vehicle-dependent service projects.
- Belles and Whistles is closely related to the 4 x 4 Group interests but it is gender specific, assisting women and their children to learn elementary, basic vehicle maintenance and repair. A membership, it sponsors garages and practical educational programs for members.
- The Wildland Walkers is a hiking and camping club. Members use trails on Rural System Tracts and other trails, receive an e-newsletter, and are invited to conferences and shows. Safety, trail etiquette, and campcraft are frequent topics.
- Rural Challenge sponsors an annual field event on a Rural System enterprise environment. The event features weight and strength contests dealing with rural items such as trees, hay, machines, rocks, etc. Stressing health and fitness and accident prevention. It profits from reduced costs of life derived from healthful living over longer periods. Providing a notable target or justification for people exercising throughout the areas, it links exercise and health and the opportunities on Rural System enterprise environments.
- The Biking Group is for people who own or are interested in the many uses, applications, and secondary consequences of using non-motorized bicycles. The Group is dedicated to increasing use of bikes, their proper and safe use, and to improving health and land and resource conservation resulting from such uses. It sponsors triathlons with other groups and individuals.
- The Rural System River Runners have great curiosity about and love of the Powell, Clinch, New, James, and Jackson rivers (and later other rivers) and seek new ways to enjoy them but also to protect and improve them. There are paid memberships. Members conduct tours of the rivers, refine use-oriented maps for the rivers and their tributaries, develop refined GIS databases for the watersheds, and monitor and reports on land use dynamics within the selected watersheds.
- Tree Tops is an enterprise featuring the strange growing sport of tree climbing (as well as rock climbing). It has paid memberships, climbing events and training sessions but is for "loners" as well as for people who use modern climbing ropes and gear to go to experience new places, new views, and rarely-visited parts of ecosystems.
- Novosports capitalizes on interest in health and exercise. It promotes new, active, diverse ways for all citizens to become participants, non-spectators, to "get out," and to establish new relationships with others and with the outdoors. The Group may find special relevance to students of nearby college and university recreational programs, both for study as well as creative student involvement and personal enjoyment. Currently proposed Novosports are conducted outdoors. Money is made from memberships (as in a health or exercise club) and in activities associates with potentially-growing new sports. Related units are The Triathlon Group, Tree Tops, Biking Group, Tetra, and The Fishery (e.g., casting tournaments) and World Ball. Various conventional races (e.g., through Tetra or the Biking Group) are sponsored, but others (e.g., combined horse and foot races), rope climbing and weight lifting may be explored. Tug of war, Atlatl, and Topple teams are sponsored.
- GPSense is a business related to all aspects of global-positioning satellites (GPS). It sells GPS units and services them, provides training programs, and sells related technology such as altimeters, and range finders. GPSence is a new organization involved in all aspects of geocashing. It combines excitement, adventure, knowledge, and strategy. Typically each person is rented a GPS unit (or use their own) with vital coordinates of a cache. The location is very precise. The individuals or team members collaborate to find the cashes (hidden boxes, metal stakes, marked trees, etc.).
Genera/Products and Communication
- Right Rural is the large comprehensive citizens group, an organization for everyone in the region and, later, everyone interested in the activities, operation, and successes of Rural System. Membership fees support the development and growth in effectiveness of Rural System but it also provides members many benefits including a newsletter, access to their own web site, alerts, discounts on equipment, products, clothing, and entrance fees, and priority access both consulting as well as uses of Rural System Tracts.
- The Codgers or the Old Geezers is a membership organization for rural people who have done a fair amount of aging. Brought up on the idea of the importance of history, of building on the past, of respect for experience, on maintaining records, and of standing on the shoulders of giants, they still have those beliefs and feelings. Codgers believe that they may still have something to offer and do so through their web site. Local groups may form. Special advice, products, and related memberships are offered.
- Fog Drip is an enterprise that collects, produces and sells recordings of rural music. It brings citizens a vital part of national culture, the songs and music to which we all listen, play and sing. It sells the new songs of the people of rural areas of the USA and, later, other countries.
- Floats is an eChapbook and brings to citizens a vital part of national culture, the poems that give us pleasure, understanding, insights, and otherwise often-unattainable dimensions of life. The poems are made available freely (the share-ware concept) to subscribers and are primarily from the people of rural areas of the USA. They are original, unedited, and the best work of the authors submitting them. They are screened by the production staff.
- The Arts Group works with painting and pottery. It provides an organization with instruction, tours, galleries, and marketing of distinctive local artistic products, typically depicting elements of the rural place and spirit. It works with The Stills Group.
- The Products Group develops and sells products of some of the enterprises of Rural System. Some have beautiful, interesting things to sell, things that add profits and reduce the costs of achieving the greater system objectives. There may be little difference between products and services but this group deals with the physical things, most of which are for sale. Though many products from the System are not trees, animal, soil, water, or fish, the product sales contribute to reducing the costs of achieving the central profit-making objective of Rural System. Thus a progressive, learning, improving system can be developed. Land with its managers and users "produces" things. These may be negative (e.g., chemically-bound substances that cannot be used), neutral, or positive. They may be viewed as "goods," as "income," or as "benefits," but these words overload the decision process with multiple past definitions and yet-debated, even un-identified nominal unit concepts. We call these things that are produced product units. They may provide service, aid in work, provide pleasure (art), provide or enhance memories, enable and augment membership, and stimulate ideas.
- The Toys Group sells a special product set, handmade toys from Appalachia and other rural areas. These may be sold from an Ebay drop off unit or from the e-catalog. Some of the toys are easily considered sculpting in wood.
- The Sculptors is a business that promotes membership for those interested in sculpting in wood and other media. It is a new organization that forms local clubs, gives seminars, publishes a newsletter with ads and advice on a web site, has a chatroom, and conducts one or more schools. It sells quality solar-seasoned wood extracted from the Callahan Tracts, encourages hobby carving, provides suggested patterns for work, and assembles carvers for large projects. With the Tours Group, it conducts high-quality, family-oriented carving schools such as conducted in Austria.
- Topics are unique wooden and metal objects, large and small, a form of sculpting, done by local people and sold to garden outlets and floral markets. These are numbered and authored objects, typically following a theme, and preparation offers local, part-time employment and marketing through Ebay and other groups.
- Inquire is the unified laboratory and laboratory referral service. It may sell specific services in soil, water, forage, seed identification, and toxic substance analyses (a potential affiliate: Biological Monitoring, Inc.) Cost-effective work and notable marketing set off the enterprise. It is closely affiliated with The Foundation.
- The Fence Group promotes new and attractive fences in the region for improved pasture management and manipulating the spaces of several livestock groups. It uses special dried and treated woods and develops protection against deer and other garden pests.
- The Pest Force confronts vertebrate faunal damage as a system, concentrating on long term, cost effective reduction of measured financial and esthetic damage and not only to pest reduction.
- RuraLives (already initiated) will continue to documents the lives of rural people, stressing the "conservation" of their knowledge and experience
- RRx the Rural System prescription system is a stand-alone software package suggesting to absentee land owners the potentials for developing their land beyond classical forestry and farming. It is nearing completion and its gains will be added to the conglomerate income. It represents a current investment of $25,000 and 2,500 hours of Dr. Giles. Foundation and agency support will also be sought.
It is time to act. Everyone can participate. Enormous contributions are not required. Money needs to be made to return contributions to The Initiative. Minimum startup grants will be required. Everyone can have a notable, important, self-affirming, meaningful role. The above will be implemented and each will go to work within the watershed and region. The following minimum actions are needed from the partners within the Initiative:
- For assigned agencies and organizations to continue their conventional roles and responsibilities for such watershed action.
- The Town of Appalachia to welcome the Initiative and appoint one or more staff or key people to meet the needs of the effort to move ahead in making major contacts, expediting processes, and improving communication.
- The town or citizens to contribute to Rural System. Inc. space for a temporary office and a store window for local “advertising.”
- The Coalfield Progress to run 3 articles and consider a column about the project, its principles, objectives, and achievements.
- A nearby local library to provide a section of materials on the Callahan project and related topics.
- A local school and historical society to develop a history of the watershed and close-by areas and people.
- The owners of small tracts and residents to form an advisory group and to study suggestions for taking part in several enterprises within Rural System.
- The owners of large tracts of land within the watershed to put a total of $1 million dollars (a proportion based on their acreage within 18,473 acres in a local bank for my use in developing Rural System and the necessary changes in the stream TMDL listed above. This functions like a line of credit or specialized bond. Invest or contribute the same amount for at least 3 more years, for the full development of Rural System at which time income (if desired or contributed to the Rural System Foundation) will flow to them from the operations of the expanding system.
- Others to contribute as they are able to the Rural System Foundation and the Cabell Brand Institute (information available for studies and education).
- Appropriate agencies to inspect (and detail the needed changes for acceptance) for the 3 Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems within the watershed.
- Related Soil and Water Conservation Districts and related NRCS staff to meet with me to point to specific current funded projects and their local managers with which we may likely become affiliated or with whom a special project can be developed.
- The tasked members of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy to meet with me to expedite planning and agreements for alternative practices, responsibilities, and available project funding on the abandoned mine reclamation tracts of the watershed (equipment, clogged streams, trails, ponds, roads, headwater stream channels, managed vegetation, grassland, debris, and highwall treatment).
- Biological Monitoring, Inc. to provide 0.5 of a part-time specialist for dealing in a timely fashion with questions, specialized tests, software, and data bases for the aquatic monitoring on-going during in the watershed during the year.
- Penn Virginia and the Powell River project to provide copies of the research reports and theses developed within the Powell River Project in order to assemble and then implement in this watershed those related findings as soon as possible.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide best available data on the fish and aquatic organism of the watershed and local highly-related watersheds. Also needed is information of known mussels of the streams and related fish, endangerment potentials, and latest possible preservation and restoration techniques. Also needed are regional records if not consistent with state data on presence of threatened and endangered species.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide the project, library, and 10 copies of a text and an Internet version listing the known elements of biodiversity of the area, explain current biodiversity legislation, describe in layman language concepts of diversity now being used within the Service and otherwise legislatively related.
- The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to provide current data on the flora of the watershed (for general use) (or arrange a detailed survey) and with GIS or related data to specify the locations of threatened and endangered species.
- The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to evaluate the ranging concept as it might be relevant to the County, region, and watershed.
- Portaqua to contribute demonstration and test time and operation of a water purification system and explore its potential applications within other watersheds of Central Appalachia.
- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to provide for public display an automated electronic presentation of a weather/climate/stream system.
- The Division of Mined Land Reclamation to provide maps of the abandoned mines of the watershed and latest publications and recommendations for such land reclamation and restoration.
- The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to provide a list of all of the fauna in each of their categories within the watershed, also threatened and endangered species (where possible). A list of all species in surrounding adjacent areas but not reported for the watershed should be developed and presented. (Thus the combination being possible species of the area and those to be sought.)
- The Sierra Club (and/or associates) to provide within 3 years a list of specific recommendations for local: (1) abandoned mined-land recovery, (2) regional landscape enhancement, and (3) a thoughtful paper, possibly for publication, on "The Callahan Watershed Beyond 2050 A.D."
- TVA to provide for our library information (publications, etc.) and recommendations on resolving the conflicts in measuring, describing, and deciding on “minimum suspended solids” in stream water. We want the best currently available decisions and advice for future measurements and work.
- The Virginia Department of Forestry to provide additional fire fighting equipment and assign a staff person to work with Rural System to implement The Fire Force Group, first within the watershed, then within the region.
- A staff member and students of a very-nearby-school science program to work with us to develop a field education area near Appalachia beside Callahan Creek.
- The full weight and authority of the Cabell Brand Center (Salem Virginia) and its president, Dr. Tamim Younos, former head of the Virginia Water Research Center, to be brought to the project.
- Faculty and students in UVA in Wise Co develop 10 GIS images (single and multi-factor; list to be provided) of the region for possible publication and use in reports and publications.
- The Mountain Empire Community College design or integrate existing cost effective procedures for rapid assessment of stream water suspended solids and displaying results for the public.
- The Conservation Management Institute provides a GIS map of evapotranspiration and develop a system under contract for a set of relevant GIS images for watershed management.
- The Cooperative Extension Service commission an intensive program within the watershed to enhance cattle operations that improves drinking water for beef cattle, reduces their access to streams, and reduce their fecal contamination of the streams of the watershed.
- The NRCS with cooperators develops a riparian volume management demonstration on the lower Callahan Creek.
- An agency establishes a stream flow monitoring station in each of the major tributaries of Callahan Creek.
- Other benefactors, enthusiastic about streams and rivers, the wildlife of the aquatic environment, and the future environmental movement, shift their financial contributions to the Callahan Creek Initiative and become corporate sponsors and notable sponsors.
The above 60 Groups and the 34 "participant actions" form collectively a beginning system, a collaborative, to solve a major complex water quality problem for a region within today’s economy. Demonstrated for a watershed, the resulting enterprise and its work and recommended practices continue to expand and do the work required for the long term, protecting investments and securing the desired water quality, and enhancing the region for the post-coal era.
Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph.D.
Founder, Rural System, Inc., Professor Emeritus
Formerly of the College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech
504 Rose Ave., Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
January 30, 2011
What's Rural System, Inc.?
Rural System is a proposed corporate conglomerate of about 50 small natural resource related enterprises. Some of the enterprises, subsystems, are new, some very old. It is a system doing modern, sophisticated, computer-aided management of the lands and waters of an eastern US region in order to sustain long-term profits and quality of life for citizens. Concentrating on superior resource management, it includes outdoor recreation, specialized tourism and rural development, forest and wildlife management, and works on restoration, enhancement, and production from the rural land resource.
The umbrella entity is a for-profit corporation with not-for-profit foundation spending a proportion of its gains on improving regional resources. It may use national and state lands and waters but, most importantly, it provides opportunities for the owners of private lands and waters (often for absentee owners and those within trust lands) to experience profits related to superior rural land management. While managing the assets of such lands, Rural System provides related services and products from the unified business units. Half of these units work from the private managed lands that are under contract.
A central unit provides incubator-like services and allows the corporation to harvest public research investments, to achieve economies of scale and division of labor, to gain synergism, and to stabilize employment.
The enterprise leads the region in computer-aided, year-around, private land management. It shares projects and funds with citizens and investors. It links citizens as well as visitors to the land and its long-term potentials for profits. It provides an alternative town and regional identity, one of a place for modern regional rural resource development and management. It links buyers and users with producers of certified forest products and rural resource opportunities from well-managed land and water resources. Successes are achieved via diligent work with personal incentives, diverse enterprises and products, and computer optimization of a total system. It overcomes the old failures of natural resource management, i.e., diseconomies of small-scale operations, mixed objectives, lack of diversity, seasonal work, lack of annual income, and failure to add value to products and efforts. It capitalizes on innovative uses of optimization, the Internet, global positioning satellites, and computer mapping throughout the region.
The system is described at www.RuralSystem.com and an Internet book: Rural System...Just Dreaming?
The vision for the enterprise is that its success in helping improve the social, economic, and environmental health of the region can allow the enterprise to become effective and expand. Thus, similar influences can be transferred, years later, throughout southern and western Virginia, then eventually internationally. The work will be recognized as the product of a special paradigm in rural resource (expanded agro-pastoral-forestry-fishery) management. As such, Rural System will become a profitable conglomerate operating well past this century, given its 150-year planning horizon sliding forward annually.
Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
formerly of the College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech
504 Rose Avenue, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
* * *
Notes on a presentation within a TMDL Meeting, Appalachia, Virginia, January 20, 2011
To sustain desired stream conditions
you must sustain profitable watershed management
Three objectives together
leading to Profit Index for the long run
- Community prosperity and health
- Improving natural resource base
Details at www.RuralSystem.com
* * *
The Callahan Creek is impaired.
We have to improve it. You now know the criteria for "improve." They need to be achieved together.
* * *
Until we develop a system, we’ll first go after the suspended solids. We’re opposed to muddy water. We know how to fix that:
Road layout and care, crossings, culverts, contouring, barriers, catchments, area use management (timing), re-vegetation, mulch, and
we fix the stream "zone" the riparian volume, and
do pretty standard abandoned mine restoration.
Working with stream-dominated land forms and functions
We need your support for this work.
* * *
Our proposal, The Callahan Creek Initiative, is a demonstration project to establish a public-private collaboration to show how similar work with Rural System, Inc. can be continued for the three stated objectives.
I want to work with you to take a first-step toward a stream-oriented public-private enterprise. We can do the above and positively impact the stream … and keep on doing it … for other streams of the region and their people.
First the land treatment (just listed) soon and closely related, to:
- Conventional agriculture and forestry;
- 10 natural resource organizations, tours; gardens; trails; pond systems;
- Products – sculpture, photography, garden items, research-based items, Alpha Earth, books
- Nature Seen – and other e publications
- Contests and New Sports – GPSence, Rural Challenge, Topple
- Vertebrate pest damage management
- Selected from 100 designed, inter-related enterprises working as a single diverse, profitable system.
* * *
We’ll work toward those later. Now the payoffs from using our proposed changes in the stream-dominated land forms and functions:
- The land owners benefit from land value increase.
- Valley residents are offered diverse jobs and reduced budget impacts of impaired health
- The miners benefit from re-mining and new surface forms halting erosion and gaining early bond release
- Citizens benefit from the first positive impacts of on-site developments of Rural System
- Agencies benefit from achieving mandates for quantified change in TSS and TDS
- The region benefits from the powerful influences of the Rural System, Inc. on other watersheds. People come to the area to learn techniques for comprehensive modern watershed management, Crescent Management, and Ranging described in the free Internet book about Rural System.
- From profits made by the conglomerate, long-term analyses and management of a growing number of watersheds can be achieved with minimum government investment.
* * *
- Planning with agencies and Rural System, Inc. and Biomonitoring, Inc.
- Gaining minimum cooperation from local groups, owners, agencies, and corporations
- GIS/GPS use expanded with InteractiveGIS, Inc. of Blacksburg; precise management (alpha-units, 10m x 10m map cell size precision); e.g., soil erosion potential in each cell.
- Integrating past research and practical findings
- Using the new stream “recovery potential”
- Clarifying regional standards
- Working intensively with railroads and road rights-of-way
- Describing potential post-coal environments and human population levels
- Creating topic-targeted designs and experimental areas
- Reshaping abandoned-mine and adjacent areas for future streams
- Reporting pre-mining biodiversity recovery and faunal enhancement
- Optimization - achieving estimated profit as a function of suspended solids, dissolved solids, coliform counts, biodiversity, and acceptable risk
- Using a distant planning horizon – 150 years sliding forward a year each year.
* * *
My offer … ../Images/Mineslope2.gif or
Start with a headwaters TSS project as first step, concentrating on extra-stream factors, their form and functions, for high-quality water for our future… with
Profit as the basis for sustained work on stream water quality
A regional approach … a systems approach … for the long run.
We cannot sustain governments, budgets, agencies, or programs, even coal production… so … sustained profits is the most likely means to gain the stream conditions desired for people of the region. This Callahan Initiative is the way to get started. I want to meet with you, learn how we can progress with you, find funding sources that we can use (not as a grant but as a type of bond as a way to get started and repaid) then stay profitable while achieving the stated objectives….for the good of us all.
* * *
Contact me, Bob Giles; Email: RHGilES [AT] RuralSystem [DOT]com
Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
emailto:RHGiles (at) [RuralSystem] dot [com}.com