|Rural System has a novel regional approach that needs to be taken now for improving land management, employment, and quality of life for citizens of your area for now and the future... all for the citizens and its visitors. It is copyrighted © to protect various advantages of authorship. You are encourage do to others to join in below our rock-bottom price. It was developed by Professor Bob Giles of the College of Natural Resources of Virginia Tech after his retirement. It is presented on the Internet for its cost-effective distribution to the many people likely now concerned and perhaps invited to be come more concerned about the quality of the total environment of your region.
Once a professor "preaching" the needs for improved land use, Bob now recognizes the failure of that and works to create a new enterprise that provides significant financial incentives for long-term care and management of the lands and waters of this region...and then beyond. The results of that effort will only be possible if the proposed enterprise, Rural System, helps develop jobs and progressive communities. The ideas here may seem self-serving, but he is 72 and still works on creating a company that works for the land and its people.
He is grateful to the Conservation Management Institute for supplying temporary start-up Internet server space.
Like other words, Ranging may be verb, a noun, or an adjective.
Ranging means engaging in one or more of a diverse set of extended, dispersed outdoor or rural activities for health, recreation, study, appreciation, and adventure. It may also mean the enterprises that are related and that promote, support, and supply these activities and the areas and resources used. It includes (but is not limited to) hiking, tramping, camping, trekking, climbing, biking, trail riding, hunting, fishing, boating, touring, sightseeing, studying nature, and wildlife watching. It might include triathlon events and their observation and support.
It is also the condition of the lands and waters where modern, sophisticated rural resource management takes place.
It is also that total system of activities that manages the land for people for the long run... where superior ranging can take place.
As an adjective, it modifies actions and conditions that tend to stabilize and improve the lands and waters of a region for high quality diverse outdoor recreational and viewing activities.
There is nothing special about a word like ranging unless it can help make sense and provide positive structure to the confusing array of inconsistent writing and work in the expansive areas of outdoor recreation and ecotourism and related words and phrases and even of the changing uses of the word "conservation."
Rural System's ranging is a program to develop and promote a wide array of outdoor activities for a region. Together, they are called ranging. The "catch" is that for such a program to be very successful and payoff for the region, the region ... all of its environment ... must be beautiful, safe, and carefully managed for the longrun. It is not easy, but it has great payoffs in human health, reduced costs and risks, employment and high quality of life.
Whether ranging depends upon Rural System or Rural System depends upon ranging can be debated. It is better to imagine an interdependent union.
A cost-effective ranging program to be described implies putting a diverse, progressive ranging enterprise into a well managed environment ... forests, soils, water, wildlife, air, and more.
We offer the program for any area of the mid eastern US. We'll expand later. As an example, the New River watershed includes one of Virginia's 14 major rivers. Its watershed starts in North Carolina. Its waters flow northward toward the Missouri, then southward into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the light blue area in western Virginia shown on the Department of Conservation and Recreation map.
With fuzzy borders, the Virginia area is shown to the right in yellow.) It's a region where people are within one day's drive from 50% of the U.S. population! The region is expanding for world-wide activity. The Internet and related E-commenrce automatically achieves part of that work.
What's "Rural System" ?
You may already know the answer. Briefly, it's a new enterprise that works in rural regions. It works with existing enterprises and private land owners, providing employment, improving economic conditions, improving land use, and improving conditions for the entire rural region, its watershed, and its people. It is described below and at www.RuralSystem.com.
What's "Land" ?
Fundamental to the Rural System and the Program is that the area, all of it is a working platform. It may be evidently, today, a forest, but that can change tomorrow. It may be in tobacco today, another crop tomorrow. Mined and flat, tomorrow it may be the site of a booming economy. It may be where ideas and creative expression arise. Land can be covered by deep water of a pond, a camp site, a corn crop, or a shopping center. While certain other things may not be suitable for a tract of land, trees are rarely the only thing for which any tract in uniquely suitable. Trees are thus a decision. Trees have no intrinsic "right" to an acre. Land exists as a mapable unit. But that new unit is a volume -- with latitude, longitude, and elevation, and height above the land and depth beneath the surface. It is very much like a large square column that we try to master to achieve citizens' objectives now and for the future. With understanding the volume, other analyses can begin. After the analyses, then the decisions may begin. These three variables describing the volume are the only three variables that are "given." They constitute the space called land.
What's the Deal?
By means of this web-site unit you, with your colleagues and some work by our staff can develop ranging in your area. Not competing with existing enterprises, , Rural System is likely to increase the markets and profitability of existing recreation, sport, and outdoor-related enterprises.
There's been a lot of agency work on large and small public areas, federal and state funding, foundation support, and enormous amounts of volunteer effort and time spent. That work and thought underlies the program. There is surrounding business activity such as for clothing and equipment. Proponents of "outdoor recreation" and its economic impacts list supportive fields and count as their full contribution the production of income with sources ranging from matches to motors, beer to binoculars.
Changes in economics, agencies, and policies in the U.S., indeed the world, have suggested that alternative strategies may be worth discussing ... maybe necessary. Current conditions suggest reduced tax support for resource agencies, loss of experienced staff, increasing environmental problems for which there are no apparent solutions, and only long-term maintenance costs, new public awareness (but poorly informed) about dependence upon a healthful environment, and new demands for "cleaning up" after past misdeeds. There are increasing urban populations, most having little understanding of rural conditions, practices, relevant periods of growth or change, or limitations. Farming conditions and the employment there change daily, influenced by globalization, urbanization, changing family relations, and technology.
There must evolve efforts to resolve such conflicts and meet the human needs that have been expressed and the new ones emerging. A design is now available within Rural System called the ranging program and it needs to be explored. There are needs for sophisticated modern management of the lands and waters of the region ... that leads to employment, stable farms, and healthful communities.
Ranging is not just a bunch of activities but is a dynamic system that can be analyzed, designed, operated, and maintained for the long run ("sustained"). "For the good of the environment" or "for the good of the animals" are essential concepts, but foremost is " for the good of people." When a system is designed and operated for the good of people into perpetuity, then all of nature must be included and tended with great care to assure that the desired future conditions occur. A ranging program is the unification of outdoor recreational activity with superior modern land and natuyral resource management.
There is a complex, a diverse set of businesses associated with ranging and there are principles for that business that can be derived from nature, ecological concepts, and resource management system concepts. These have now been incorporated into a design for the suggested new rural-resource business, a conglomerate. That business is now called Rural System, Inc.
Tourism, ecotourism, (or adventure tourism) have been suggested as major ways that the region can be made more rich, jobs insured, and a future plotted. It is hard to turn from the hidden message in a newspaper account (2003) saying that tourism in Virginia is a $12.9 billion industry supporting more than 211,000 jobs for Virginians and providing more than a billion dollars in state and local tax revenues. We suggest caution, and have prepared notes on "Viable Tourism" There are mixed messages and caution flags in developing this singular line of investment. It can "work" but only with very careful planning and skillful implementation, concentrating on full costs . We strongly support limited careful efforts and enhancement of the activities now underway, but suggest time and effort be devoted to a diverse inclusive set of activities, most consistently profitable, such as a single interactive system.
Observers suggest that we are strongly biased against tourism but toward wildlife topics. Few people know how broad that subject matter is. Hunting and fishing have long been described as major outdoors sports and recreation. Most economic benefits ascribed for them relate to expenditures during travel. There are more ways to profits, more ways to move past the economic margins, new ways to gain synergism or team benefits. Cost effective strategies can be developed and the effects of decisions can be simulated before they are made. Optimum locations can be selected for things that are line-like (utility corridors), point-like (offices, factories, plantings) and area-like (effects of a tax or policy).
Although prone to wish to protect the region's natural resources, we are more prone to concentrate on managing those resources because some now need restoration, then enhancement. There are ways to make profits from the protected resources, and these are outlined. Of course we have to pay the costs required to assure safe, quality experiences for travelers, both for those people from our area as well as for visitors or guests.
The diverse enterprise (someone called it "a little business ecosystem") makes money by improving land and related resources and their use in the region. It operates many other rural-resource-related businesses. It along with many individuals and groups realizes that the region and its and the watersheds are only sustainable if they are managed. The key measures are hydrologic response and water quality.
The company advertises the region along with its activities (because it is "the founder") as it seeks to make profit from all activities or enterprises ... all working together.
None of the enterprises is more important than another is. All, by design, are related and supportive. They perform as a single carefully managed system.
Here's What you Get for $xxx,xxx in a Three-Year Program
The types of enterprises (with a few examples) are:
System Central provides management, marketing, publications, employment services, insurance, facilities, computers, space, laboratory, communications, web site, and transportation. This single group provides cost effectiveness for all groups and stability for some activities that are seasonal and affected by storms, fires, etc. It directs the work that is designed to provide strong financial incentives for superior, long tern rural land management.
Service and Action Groups (Link here for the list of Groups. Others are briefly discussed below.)
What's new? Why "Ranging"?
The needs for Rural System and a systems approach for the region seem clear and, while the ideas herein are not new, the combined applications suggested are new. The newness includes:
Together, these applied within a single system, hold the promise of an entity, a totally new system, an entire region working together for its own good and for the future. New today, the innovations and discoveries, and applications that will arise from the exciting changing interplay of the proposed enterprises and activities will themselves produce the good news ... the news announcement of the week from that creative Ranging place.
The Program: A Concept for the Region
The ranging program is created by the people of a region and operated for them by Rural System, Inc. Advice and suggestions are sought to improve the concept and venture capital (or applying a membership strategy) is sought to make the concept real.
There are related parts of the proposed program (hereinafter called The Program):
The objective of the Program is to benefit the people of the region for at least a 150-year planning horizon, shifting forward a year each year. To do that, the objective is to create and operate a for-profit enterprise that will set standards of excellence in resource management in the region, increase employment, stabilize communities, and increase benefits to landowners and citizens, then expand widely. A proportion of the profits will be devoted to key improvements on private lands.
Examples of integrative projects developed by the Program are:
More About the Region
Over 50 components of the Program provided through Rural System together result in a new, dynamic public-private partnership for the rural region.
The area, as many other rural areas, is beset with problems and needs in an ever-changing political environment. Pressures increase from an increasing new set of diverse users whose range of interests, values, knowledge, and outdoor experience is now very great. There has always been uncertainty about rural land management and what complete naturalness (a hands-off concept) may mean when contrasted to various levels of manipulation, control, intervention, even restoration, to achieve some previous state. The region is beset with these and other problems, for set-aside lands need management. Rural beauty is seen in some pastures and unless these are carefully grazed, pastures become eroded or revert to forest-sameness. This region is probably experiencing problems of the types and magnitudes likely to be experienced by other rural communities in the near future.
The region and its people need help now to stop the loss of farm families, assure a tax base for local children, provide quality conditions for tourists who are attracted (without incurring costs of infrastructure), and assure local people lasting advantages from investing in the region. The region may capitalize on demonstrating its successes with a modern high-technology solution to these pressing regional problems. Others elsewhere are in the same boat and can benefit from the lessons learned and practices employed.
A new spirit of need for less public and more private involvement in life has been expressed. Often expressed as reduced public agency employment and reduced funds for established agencies, the perceived spirit can have profound effects on the land and on its managers, especially as public land use increases while funds for protection and management decrease. There is no singular solution but the Program can provide major assistance. It seeks to create a new complex enterprise, a diverse, for-profit company working in the region, utilizing private lands of willing owners, using existing public lands, gaining support from the universities and closely-related colleges, encouraging students, using research results (literally a billion dollar reservoir to be exploited), and stabilizing employment for local citizens.
With the U.S. having an international reputation for scientific research, the citizens of the U.S. have turned against supporting research, reports the National Science Foundation. Drastic cuts and re-organizations have occurred. Many areas of research in the University have been cut and costs have increased. Rural System seeks new ways to continue to produce research results as it has done in the past, to maintain momentum. The environmental research areas have suffered greatly, often because of unclear linkages and agency assignments. It has been difficult to sustain longtern needed studies of slow-moving natural systems. The needs for ecological knowledge, for understanding biodiversity and its proper care, for reducing wildlife damage, for protecting rare species, for assuring enjoyment without losses to the wilds ... all are real.
Rural System exploits the past progress of faculty and students of Virginia Tech, Radford University, and nearby colleges. The union of three -- the region, the new company, and the universities and an Institute -- in a unique effort can bring new benefits to citizens at lowest-possible tax costs, and can move new research findings from publication to practice, making ranging a centerpiece of a rural area -- probably with a large number of visitors -- to many people of Earth. Anticipating reduced travel (for energetic as well as political reasons), the Program does not propose to build a tourism base with limited unique sites. It includes these, but builds on a diverse product and service base, all related to the rural region and its essential watershed.
It recognizes the needs for housing for guests (tourists and visitors of all typies). See participant in past Virginia conference on this topic (2006-2007), Richard R. Perdue, Professor and Head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Pamplin School of Business, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is a an elected fellow and currently serves as President of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism. He is also a member of the Travel and Tourism Research Association and the Association of International Experts in the Scientific Study of Tourism. He currently serves as Editor of the Journal of Travel Research, which is a premier tourism scholarly journal. He also serves on the editorial boards for Tourism Analysis, the Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing; Tourism Economics, China Tourism Research, and Tourism Management. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Travel and Tourism Authority, on the tourism research review board for the National Coastal Resources Institute, on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration task force on accountability research and on the Colorado Tourism Board Research Committee. He has conducted tourism research and marketing projects for state tourism offices in Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Nebraska, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and for numerous local and regional tourism development authorities.
More About The Program
The following sections outline the parts of the the Program.
Decision makers make decisions. They are people who take risks in an instant, then proceed to implement a decision. No computer or other system, no committee makes decisions. There is eventually only one decision maker. Decisions discussed herein are formal, high-value, and profound --- not of the simple but often difficult type such as whether to stay at the desk or go to the field. The singular system proposed is highly integrated. Parts of it probably can be found elsewhere. Parts have been developed but laid aside because they were not related, well integrated with other aspects of a region that make it profitable as a unit.. A decision for condition A may have adverse effects against condition B if there are not substantial efforts to relate the two. Experienced managers do this well now, but the problem now and for the near future is that 50 factors must be integrated and the people may not be experienced due to agency changes, rapid personnel moves, and rapid changes in the lands themselves (e.g., interior ice storms or wildfires; exterior industrial development).
Integrated decision aids are needed. A system of such aids is needed. Because of past experience and extensive study, most of those needs are now known. No costly needs assessment must be done. By intensive application of feedback and adaptive work in a system designed for it, new needs can be seen and cost-effective responses made in the context of the existing system with synergistic results. Change need not require a new step, an additional unit, but only a new nested subsystem to achieve the precise desired result.
Scattered within the literature of the past 40 years is the premise of operations research specialists that if your client can state objectives, then use optimization procedures; if not, use simulation. The results of presenting a computer system with a question like "What if I change x? What will be the consequences?" is to engage a simulation. There are legal and other bases for goals and objectives but it is an area needing much work. Now, with limited stated objectives, only simulation is feasible. The situation or context for decisions is that if you change x, then the following 150 changes will occur (each with stated with 80% confidence); some positive, some negative. Now decision maker, integrate them and decide! The situation is not imaginary. It is unusual, because only 10 - 20 factors are considered, confidence is less than 80%, and staff probably should integrate many more than 20 factors in the brief period of many regional landuse decision situations.
The Program as proposed and if implemented will contain a new procedure for setting and measuring achievement of objectives. This procedure includes:
The concept of any system has at its most fundamental level the need for clear objectives. No decisions can be tested without them; nothing designed, no evaluations made, no feedback implemented, no cost-effectiveness decided without them. "Adaptive management" praised by many federal groups is silly without them.
After 30 years of experience and effort, it has become clear that one (or a few) large systems will not meet the many, diverse, daily needs of managers of the average large public land holding. Both large and small systems or programs are needed. They range among those used to make biomass estimates per unit area, do conventional statistics or simple economic computations (e.g., break-even or present value estimates), compute gravel needs, specify gulley control structures, estimate seed germination, or make population estimation. Increased efficiency is the objective, for eventually it may mature to increasing effectiveness -- efficiency in achieving the stated objectives.
There are many educational and decision-aiding computer programs available. More are needed. The new computer environments give us unique capabilities to work in programming hyperspace -- to use one program, get results, then link to another and use data from a third program or data file to solve a problem before going to the field tomorrow. New approaches called expert systems are to be developed with these aids.
There is profit to be made from many types of outdoor recreation, most listed above in the definition. Many are freely done on public lands but there are changes coming at a rapid rate as the lands become less safe, more crowded, more distant (due to higher fossil energy costs). In addition to fees, there is substantial wealth flowing to the public through recreation not captured in revenue stream.
We provide expanded concepts of a recreational enterprise, one that may capture several groups or serve a singular function.
We'll seek support for creating a computer game like Myst. The educational potentials, outreach, and broad-scale influence of such a system -- and its support -- are almost unlimited. The game will contain elements of most of what is described herein, how to win in the complex game of living within...ranging 'round the New River. It will be useable by children or adults. An annual competition will be held.
Limited funds, restricted interests, urbanization, and shifts in public appreciation of research all lead to limitations in funds for classical rural science studies. Herein we propose to develop a knowledge base needed for effective operation of the system. The present approach will be to use existing studies for at least the first 5 years. This is an applications and development policy. Supportive of research, the policy expresses the real and immediate needs of the people, awareness of findings already made from prior investments, and the never-ending need for knowledge. It is time to "take stock", "clean-house" and establish new priorities for studies, including examining carefully Wolfram's A New Kind of Science . Then we can fund studies that contribute in likely ways to the Program's objectives. A knowledge base is built in many ways; certainty is approached -- within limits. Induction for learning has served well and will continue to do so. There are alternatives, however, and while they may not be desired (and counter-effort launched), they do exist and need to be used in the present situation. The key premise is that once a system is seen clearly and modeled, then the needed inputs can be specified. All knowledge is potentially good but in the systems view, and in a resource-restricted environment, only necessary inputs can be afforded. Rational allocation of limited funds requires (1) that the system run, and (2) that objectives be achieved at lowest feasible costs (i.e., the cost-effective state). One dollar spent for knowledge not certain to be used (at some high probability) is good knowledge but irrelevant to the present and planned (150-year horizon) system. Need-to-know replaces nice-to-know. It is a difficult and often unpleasant premise given the influence of past educational systems. It is one of the difficult decisions made by people who will commit to creating the Program.
We will collect all available information on the region and develop computer maps and texts. Needed knowledge (old or that to be discovered) cannot be decided without a view of the total system and analyses of the factors to which objectives are most sensitive... and that cannot be developed without objectives. Engaging no further debates about basic or applied research, studies, monitoring, surveys, descriptions... etc. are relevant. If knowledge is gained and made retrievable within a common source, then it is "good" necessary for an operational system. Most scientists can list 50 topics or questions of interest or that can be studied well and hypotheses tested. Herewith, we propose the same quality studies but only to support and encourage topics that may improve the the Program operation and score.
"Findings" of any type, of quality, are considered primary Program input. Following our success in developing a national wildlife information system (now used in Virginia and over 20 states and countries) we propose to use it intensively and to include a specialized botany information system, and develop a separate invertebrate information system. With the extensive, expanding electronic library base of the Virginia Tech library and the internationally prominent VTLS library system we propose to develop a knowledge base, an access center (not a physical "holdings" center). We also propose to add relevant documents (scanned, etc.) to a data base allowing complete-text word searching.
Often viewed as operators or as part of any system's process, permanent staff of Rural System may be viewed as input agents -- ideas, knowledge, energy. Part of the system's operation is continual education, staff involvement and team work, and clear points of contact where inputs are expected and can be made with appropriate feedback. Staff become a resource for students who participate within a nationally notable service/learning program Tech, Wilkes Community College, etc. Volunteers or graduates may become staff of several of the proposed enterprise groups.
In systems work, staff and facilities are often omitted from plans and descriptions. Emphasis is on software and hardware. If staff cannot be achieved and stabilized, then the system will fail. Initial support needs to be translated into long-term dependable service. The system envisioned is within the region, others scattered around the state, with others at Virginia Tech or Radford University, others in office and lands throughout the region. Development of some products and software will be scattered, partially to assure wide-spread regional employment.
A war-room-like space is proposed for small-group education, for visiting dignitaries, and for intensive staff meetings. This is conceived as a high-technology room. One use of such a room is for presenting Trevey reports. The Trevey (pronounced "tree-vy" and named for a sponsor) is a planning system that replaces conventional "book" plans and produces ever-changing ones via the Internet. It serves clients within the region. The general nature of the system allows its widespread use and a means by which knowledge may be exported to others. The planning system incorporates research and descriptive elements of the knowledge base, uses current data, and uses optimization.
Users of and visitors to get a New in the New "invitation.". Staff provide information on road conditions, safety hazards, and new developments. Addresses are gained for future contacts for events; memberships are solicited for Friends, Nature Folks, and others. User satisfaction and interest surveys are conducted. A center may be developed or affiliations with existing ones made that provide information about the region and its rules -- a primary step in law violation prevention and site protection. Special programs teach campcraft, nature, and ecology. A series of advanced classes and workshops (distance learning) are taught. Internet relations are created. (This may build on the past work of the A. Anderson Huber Cyber Campus as it continues to propel technology to the education forefront. The cyber campus is unique among the classrooms at Alleghany High School and is part of the North Carolina Information Highway (NCIH),
The New "Pinnacle" is a certificate given to a person who has demonstrated ability to perform 500 acts recognized by a board of experts as needed for a high quality of life in the region. It includes citizenship, safety, first aid, outdoor skills, and knowledge for the future. Run by the Competency Group, The New Pinnacle program requires that personal skills be demonstrated by applicants. An evaluator observes: do X or not. The events range from build a fire, through measure a tree, to write a program to report a suspected emergency situation. People from all over the eastern U.S. come to the area, pay a fee, take the tests, and display the performances. A certificate of the competency displayed is awarded. After many visits, the 500 displayed acts or New Pinnacle is reached. Current grade inflation and highly variable course requirements in universities and alternative modes of learning will make this certificate as valuable to some employers (and employees) as a university award. All of the tests are conducted a special areas developed for that purpose throughout the region.
If a meteor struck Earth and all human life was lost in the northern hemisphere, it would be almost impossible to reconstruct the present society from our remains. It seems reasonable to start from the present and work back in history. Opportunities need to be seized but known-to-unknown seems essential. A verbal history needs to be collected, automated, and indexed before the elders are lost. A set of ecologically-related questions needs to be prepared and used as part of efforts to collect local expert elders' knowledge about the area. These can be stored and made available via CDs.
The dynamics of area users needs to be determined. Society changes, especially as a function of age structure. To design regional facilities and services to meet needs of a population no longer interested seems unreasonable. The value derived from scenes, sightings, services, and experiences need to be known and relative values determined for subpopulations. As these groups change, natural "succession" of values and benefits derived change. These can be modeled and managerial responses made.
Volunteer efforts by youth and others are needed. Such effort can be directed to intensive work on optimal sample size, exact location (GPS), careful recordings in electronic form ... all are needed to support the ecological and economic models. If surplus effort exists beyond that determined from the design, or if other work is desired, then that is up to the individual and they are unlikely to gain support or encouragement until all needed studies are completed.
How are needs established? By stating and weighting objectives, by those in the large list developed for the region. An example objective may be: To stabilize native plant species abundance at or above an estimated minimum viable population level. Such an objective might result in a GIS-based plant survey with area-proportional sampling near roads. It would also result in a paper and model precisely defining minimum viable population level. The level will differ for each species. Since many species will be abundant and risks of error or failure slight, emphasis will be concentrated on unusual areas (low proportion of map cells) and rare plants. A general plant model is developed. Studies of the rare plants are assembled in the plant data base. Dominant spatial conditions are used in first phase analyses:
Using GIS with the above, re-introductions may follow intensive surveys to increase the occurrence and reduce probabilities of losses from catastrophe of the plants. Fire suppression efforts in select areas might be adjusted to enhance some species, reduce some competitors.
The new system takes action based on objectives rather than "needs assessments" ... the citizens have expressed these over and over and the present system seems inadequate. It is thus time for the new on The New.
The same GIS-based models will be used to achieve other objectives. An invertebrate model (especially the human disease vectors) will be linked to the plant model (e.g., tree-hole mosquitoes, culicoids, and ticks). A human hazard map will logically result from ecological maps and allow managers to discourage seasonal use of some areas, encourage use elsewhere, and provide advice to area users about needed protection and practices. New three-dimensional mapping of caverns may become attractive to visitors, cave enthusiasts, and those concerned with the dynamics of karst topography.
Trail building, as another example, becomes an ecological problem and its solution is derived from dynamic programming that, for example, locates across the landscape the best corridor for hiking or horse riding trail connecting two points that achieves:
Any system, of the type described herewith, must be maintained and used if it will payoff. The Program is planned as a for profit corporation. It may have an affiliated not-for-profit for related appropriate activities and services. Many good systems have been created but their expected value never materialized because of staff changes, organizational change, or innovations that replace rather than improve or display adaptive improvement.
Part of the strategy of the Program is to achieve a diverse funding base. This includes:
Parts of the base funding, the items listed above, are probably well known. The enterprises need to be developed to hire key personnel, acquire working space, gain special area protection, educate the staff and public, reduce conflicts, and expand citizen benefits from the rich resources available. Preliminary proposals are available for the following private, for-profit enterprises, all with planned percentage profits to participants in the Program based on membership fees and risks taken.
None of these will "work" by itself but will become profitable and stable within or as part of a single, integrated, diverse company. It will succeed with emphasis and orientation on the region and the New River, with percentage profits going to the enterprise, members, participating landowners and Partners. As state financial supports decrease, then the Program strategy suggested may be a proper response.
Specific-user fees are seen as part of the enterprises or separate from them. Fees are not for use of the land or staff but as payment for extra personal services related to area use (e.g., guides, safety).
A book on the New River Deer Herd is needed to unify the knowledge about the deer of the region, present current problems, help develop objectives and policy, and present a document that lays out for the public the alternatives for long-term herd management.
A computer simulation will be used with results shown in the book. GIS will be an essential part of the work. The deer is one of the most pressing problems perceived for region because it is visible, has positive as well as negative effects, is both emotional and physical, and suggests the control that managers have over it and, by analogy, any other aspect of regional management.
Like litter in a park, failure to "clean-up" begets more problems. The primary deer problems needing cleaning up are perceived as:
There is no single solution to deer problems. A cost-effective continuous management program is needed. The problem will continue to be threatening but, under control, the population can be kept under a threshold of concern and above a stated user-benefit level. A private, sophisticated, cooperative control system is proposed as part of the organization.
A species list is as important to this region as a waterfall, a cave, a scene. The species are a local as well as a national resource. People come to benefit from a resource. The list is a statement of potential human benefits that may be derived from an area. We can expand the lists, make them seasonal, trail specific, or road-segment specific. Users need to be able to relate to a stream, a mountain, a slope (only a few will relate to the whole). Competition to achieve sightings of species on lists similar to bird watcher life lists can be encouraged. Sales of the lists and payment for tours (with guides) and trips to see more can pay for expanded programs.
The GIS is a new, special way to make ecosystem knowledge relevant to local citizens as well as visitors. The public will seek out maps of potential habitat where they can get warbler x for their Ranging 'Round the River life list. Their accomplishments will be recorded for the Internet and members (and perhaps competitors for having seen all birds (etc.) in the region.
The ecosystem to be mastered is the 10 x 10 meter pixel, the map unit of the Landsat. These are called Alpha Units. The Park can lead the way past watershed management, past ecosystem management, past landscape ecology into a multi-level comprehension of the eco-volume, an entity that is pixel size but 8 km above and 8 km below the
|Soil erosion classes in a Virginia county are one type of mapped information that can be produced from a geographic information system. Darkest colored cells (alpha units) have highest soil losses. Computed numerical estimates are available for each map cell.|
Start-up, structure, dynamics, and relations are the four classic ecosystem categories. Descriptions of structure will continue. Dynamics are centered on succession and biomass per unit area per unit time (classic ecosystem production estimates). Production must be related to the biomass units, (the tree, fish, snail, grass, mouse, shrew, etc.) so that when the demand units for objectives in each taxonomic unit, deficits or excesses can be assessed. Status, condition at a time, can be thereby assessed (even though no action to change the status may be feasible or known). Human value is attached to each structural element in setting objectives.
Most first-phase models will address:
Congress now has many bills before it addressing risk assessment. We propose to address risk in the ecosystem models in terms of probability of occurrence in a pixel and probability of achieving the level of demand established in objectives. Results may be expressed as a pseudo expected value, well known in economic models. "Occurrence" becomes probable occurrence or [1.0-the risk of failure]. Expected value will be described in detail as part of the objectives subsystem and where most actively used, in The Trevey.
Ecosystem work is critically important, but it achieves new meaning and relevance when it is seen as a major component of the objectives-achieving total system objectives, not some extra scientific work that may or may not be done -- depending on annual budgets. Elucidation of ecological principles is done to improve the functional model. Publication, even in new electronic formats, is secondary. Increased detail of modeling is laid aside if increased gains in regional performance scores cannot be foreseen. Statistical confidence levels are relaxed to alpha of 0.3 or less. Sample sizes are reduced and operational results are thereby hastened. Ability to model expert decisions well (as well as the ecosystem itself) becomes the new criterion, with pressure for rapid continual improvements.
Emphasis will be on non-migrant species for these are the primary species depending on the region for breeding and wintering. Assuming responsibility for species predominantly in the control of others is unreasonable. The staff's support of migrants may be used in justifications, but where migrants are among the objectives, the region's score may decline for reasons totally unrelated to local, even superior, action. Citizens need to encourage national and international agency work for the migrant species of birds, mammals, fish, and insects (the Monarch butterfly).
A Potential Research Program: Wilderness Wildlife
increases in travel and tourism are leading to the destruction and degradation of our most pristine natural resources. Privatization, if utilized properly, can prevent these tourists from generating mayhem. Privatization will ensure the quality of a travel experience as well as maintain the beauty of a destination. Traditionally, tourism has focused on publicly managed national attractions such as National Parks and Forests. Public agencies are not able to meet the demand of recreational tourists under a mass-tourism framework.
A new concept of a Program for the region has been developed. It integrates (1) knowledge-base creation and research, 2) local enterprises and employment, (3) comprehensive computer-based decision aids, (4) ecosystem and economic modeling, and (5) new uses of the Internet for staff, landowners, citizens, students, and the visiting public. It starts in the headwaters and extends throughout The New.
Rural System will market the rich resources of the region, manage lands for residents and absentee owners, create related sales and services of equipment, clothing, food, lodging, and supplies; offer guided tours and unique experiences; develop new organizations with lasting memberships; and attract gifts, bequests, and contract research projects. The tours will provide opportunities for students for work experience and education, funds for tuition, and graduate research opportunities. Because of an unusual planned-research program, visitors may become participants in substantive profoundly helpful, research programs with demonstrated applications and usefulness.
A great rural and natural resource, exists in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is generally the water and lands of The New River. It can be protected and its use and benefits increased for a wide variety of local citizens, and thousands of visitors --- even in the face of stable or declining state and federal budgets. The proposed Program uses principles learned from general systems theory and 30 years of wildland research, systems development, ecosystem structure itself, computer mapping, and creative information system building. It exploits ideas of modern diverse corporation conglomerates that have parallels in ecosystems.
The concepts here need constructive critique to match well with local conditions. The next step will be for citizens of and friends of the region who see the financial, humane, and ecological worth of the the Programto aid in identifying and organizing the venture capital that, by first estimates, will pay off well in 7 years.
Recreation receipts brought in more money than grazing this year (2004) for the first time in the history of the Bureau of Land Management.
For fiscal year 2004, the BLM collected $13.5 million in recreation receipts compared to $10 million for grazing. What's more, the agency estimates that 93 percent of its contacts with the pubic are now related to recreation.
I am eager to discuss parts or all of this design document, in essence a proposal, and I am available for private discussions or presentations to groups. I have limited financial resources but am willing to share ideas and information and time to achieve my only objective ... modern, sophisticated, cost-effective management of the lands and waters of the world for its people ... for at least the next 150 years.
I'm developing related concepts for a USDA proposal and a related proposal to the Kellogg Foundation.
|Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph. D., Professor Emeritus,
College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA,
504 Rose Avenue, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA 24060
Phone 540-552-8672 or e-mail RHGiles@RuralSystem.com
Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 3, 2005