Rural System's

The Tract Owner's Invitation

The staff of Rural System now invites you to join the Rural System Tracts. The bottom line is that when you join, the staff will manage your forests and related lands for you in a superior fashion, make extra money for you, reduce your risks, and increase the productivity as well as value of your land.

If you already do this and are satisfied that you are caring for the land perfectly, making the most money you can over the long run, not making mistakes for which your children and grandchildren will have to pay, avoiding future litigation, dodging risks, and having confidence that the land you love will be managed well after you are gone, then read no further. Don't waste time; please go and enjoy your land!

If you have doubts or shaky answers to the above questions, then our invitation holds. The invitation is to join our group and put your land under Rural System new superior management system for the long run.

We have developed a win-win-win strategy for certain land owners. These include:

The winning concept is that all three - the landowner, the public, and Rural System - benefit from working together.

The Rural System is not a simple idea. In the past, trying to make "forestry" simple has done awful things to the land, to people, and to agencies. The idea has seven manageable parts:

Let me describe each part:

1. Membership

First you join. It costs $87. For that you get:

  1. A newsletter and web-site access
  2. Outdoor clothing discounts
  3. Outdoor equipment discounts
  4. Outdoor and nature book lists with discounts
  5. A $20 contribution to forest systems research
  6. Discounts on 2 announced tours a year
  7. Free registration at an annual meeting
  8. Priority access to land management consulting and management service
  9. Access (with discounts) to the other components of the Rural System.
2. Publications and Tours

Forests are wonderfully exciting, varied places and people love to learn about them. We provide a regular newsletter with information about the Rural System and about forests and their management.

Not satisfied with readable publications, some information being on electronic mail, we provide two educational, entertaining tours a year to show the principles and concepts employed in the Forests. An annual meeting provides additional insight into the management program, forest knowledge, and opportunities for land owners.

3. Consulting

Not just a "forestry consultant operation", Rural System puts your land under its wing, so to speak. Less than 20% of timber harvesting and forest work in the area is now done with the advice of foresters. This situation results in low profits and land abuse with taxpayers paying millions of dollars in erosion, water cleanup, and fish and wildlife costs. Rural System are lands that are being brought under management. At cost, the staff provides a superior computer-produced analysis of your forest, complete with satellite maps and dozens of other maps showing all aspects of the ecology and economics of your area. The Trevey is the system used, one developed within Foresters, Inc. and now becoming internationally known.

This consulting work is achieved under a contract with any member of the Forest. In certain cases where gifts or memorials are considered, members will be assisted in contacts with the Virginia Tech Foundation. Once an analysis and plan is made, the landowner may then decide to do the work or to have the Rural System staff do it for them at minimal costs.

The plan, The Trevey, is a comprehensive diagnosis and prescription for your land. You can access your personal plan on the Internet. Based on years of study, a computer system develops a means to achieve your objectives, given the resources of the land and their potential enhancement. It may tell you that your objectives cannot be achieved but will show what is possible. The advantages of our new system, computer maps, expert system and knowledge base, and of our capitalizing on millions of dollars of federal research, are almost unbelievable. You will find, like we do, that they are awesome.

4. Active Management

After signing a contract, a Rural System sign goes up and the land is placed under sophisticated management. Study after study of landowners has shown their interests are high in forest recreation, forests for beauty, pride of ownership, a "family plac", and an inheritance. Profits from wood sales are usually not listed or they are placed low on a list. Taxes on forested lands are a problem. Along with that problem come those of limited periodic cash flows, high costs of small tract management, fluctuating markets for wood, fluctuating (and relatively low) prices and interest rates, inheritance taxes, income taxes, and, as always, a variable demand for some income at times. These problems, this large set of them, have all added up in the past to be prohibitive of time, production, and top quality forest management on most private lands with trees.

Rural System provide a solution for those who voluntarily join. This is a strictly private, voluntary organization and activity. The staff of Rural System, under contract, implements the plan. This includes (but there is more):

  1. signs
  2. clarifying the boundary
  3. clean-up and restoration
  4. critical area work (e.g., gullies)
  5. trails
  6. road system development as needed
  7. stand improvement
  8. watershed work (and a fishery where appropriate)
  9. fire, insect, and disease protection
  10. wildlife enhancement
  11. botanical work
  12. pest damage management
  13. security
We believe a forest is a volume that has trees in it. It includes air over it and the soil and geology under it. Managing that entire volume, as a whole, for the long run, is our quest. Sensitive, adaptive ecosystem work is what we do, but we are always working with four other E's (other than the ecosystem or the environment). These are energetics (mindful of likely future fossil energy shortages); esthetics (the full range of social, cultural, and historic aspects of the land that give it both the physical or scenic beauty, as well as other dimensions of value and "place"; economics (value, of course, for these 5 E's are related, but we give a strong emphasis to financial analyses coupled with risks, demand, and substitutability); and enforcement (the laws, regulations, and policies and the means for them to be carried out).

We believe in "sustained development" and "sustainable agriculture" but have the philosophy that a flow of money, not just products, is the intention of laws and conference discussion about sustainability. "Sustained yield" can bankrupt a landowner if the prices are falling! Depending on owner's objectives, we seek to at least prevent the act of holding land from being a drain on an estate, foundation, or investment portfolio.

We develop sound, vital, functioning lands. We restore lands that have had their systems destroyed, literally "mined" of their wood, fertility, and genetic power. Mostly working for the new forest, we select trees, carefully remove them, and grow new ones of high quality. We create wildlife areas, gardens, grassy pathways, ponds, springs, viewpoints, and in some cases, entire designed autumn-color landscapes.

Each forest is separate, but together they are managed by a single Rural System staff which, because of superior training, equipment, and teamwork, can achieve great economies of scale and efficiency.

We produce an annual report for your property. It describes our work there, but more importantly, it describes your new system-its status, growth, production, enhanced value, and projections.

We do more than manage trees on your land. Each tract is unique, an individual. We treat it that way. We develop (as appropriate) recreational trails, fee fishing, tours, hunting opportunities, bee hives, recreational events, and find other "production" that, in total, can be sustained year after year over the long run without detracting from the area or its value to the owners.

We use a modified tried-and-true, very old concept of "financial share cropping." It has wonderful incentives built within it. Our "dealV for you is as low-cost and risk-free for you as we can imagine. We manage your land and we share in the profits. We take risks along with you. We do not recommend excessive investments because they may reduce profits (for both of us). We work for the long run to improve our profits with time. The higher the quality of the area, the higher the production of profits. Having worked on a Lasting Forest for years and having brought it from a high-graded mess to a beautiful, productive place loved by the public that pays to use it is a wonderful experience for us. We grow attached to these forests, but yet, some lands must be sold. It is expected. The contract for the Rural System work includes a 5% of sale-value contract severance fee. We bring forested land to a highly valued state over many years-often doubling its original value-then our incentive, along with that of the owner, is not merely annual production, but also enhanced total land value. If there had been no profit after several years of trying to enhance the value of a run-down area, and the owner sells the area, the Rural System would benefit a little and could sustain itself.

Allowing trees to mature to needed sizes, perhaps 100 or more years, has been a persistent problem for private owners of forest land. Most landowners have too few acres for meaningful forest management. Only when work over many areas is united can this be done. We let some areas mature. We harvest some trees and fertilize others frequently. The question of "Fairness" (who forgoes income in the short term?) we address by shared income. We compute "gross profit" then compute 10% of this as a long-term cost. This amount is then shared among owners based on their potential-production-weighted acreage in the Rural System.

5. Security

Of course, under contract, some Rural System will be held forever and production and yield returns will be directed to an estate, trust, foundation, or to Rural System itself.
As part of the active management, we implement a carefully controlled anti-crime, anti-vandalism, and anti-littering program. These are persistent threats. We seek control, along with prevention. An experienced officer with a unique, carefully researched secret strategy is used. A hazard reduction component is added.

6. Studies

As part of our work, we are pressing the limits of wildland science. Part of our returns is devoted to applied research and practical studies, which may improve conditions and forest decisions. Tax deductions for contributors to this effort with Virginia Tech are available. Entire research programs with named scholarships and international prominence are available in connection with the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources at Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tech Foundation. Carefully supervised Virginia Tech students may gain experience and money to support their education within the Forests.

7. Feedback

Every progressive system has feedback, which is monitoring combined with corrective action. There are many feedback components throughout the Rural System ranging from personal safety of staff to assurances that the objectives of owners are achieved.

If we work together for 10 or more years and you decide to sell or "get out" to avoid the 5% severance, that would not be appropriate. We stipulate a 2-year continuance of the land sale provision. If donated to the Virginia Tech Foundation or to an organization using Rural System concepts, there is no fee.

We are not "selling" or offering a pig-in-a-poke. We simply invite you to join the Forests. You can "get out" at any time. When "in", we join in a great adventure to get past some of the problems of public forest management, achieve unique benefits, avoid the defunct rules and policies of public agencies, avoid the "this tract is too small" problem, and continue productive forest resource development in the environment of reduced state and federal staffs, funding, direction, and morale. We have an opportunity to gain superior private, productive, profitable forests, a new reality among thousands of acres in the region in very small to very large forests, all jewels in the region.

Extra Information

We live in a world of computers, data, and statistical analyses, but because so many numbers are debated and there are so many very different conclusions based on the same data, a person or company has to decide-and take the risks of being. The following is the primary basis for action in the Rural System.

The situation in our region is perceived to include now and for the next timber rotation:

  1. No tradition of forest management;
  2. We're growing more than we're cutting but... we have an oversupply of small, low-quality hardwoods;
  3. A shortage of high-quality hardwood saw timber;
  4. Deer populations restricting re-vegetation attempts;
  5. Re-emergence of interest in biomass forests and supplying chip mills;
  6. Continued demand for pulpwood around collection centers;
  7. Restrictions in harvest areas to protect plant and animal species;
  8. Interest in select high-value woods, such as poplars, empress trees, and walnut; and in 'green tag' wood (wood from lands carefully managed with great environmental concern as under the national Sustainable Forest Initiative and SmartWood Certification);
  9. Reduced total area in tree cover;
  10. Increased interest in the out-of-doors by suburbanites;
  11. New concerns about pest damage and animal-related human diseases.
The management of the Rural System addresses the parts of this situation.

We have concepts and means of operation. Many of these are described in our publications. A sample of the ideas that have concerned people in the past is:

Wildfire - We put in place a community-wide wildfire prevention system. We are developing a superior fire fighting strike force.

Prescribed Fire - We can use fire under carefully studied conditions to achieve natural events (just as from lightning) that produce desired plants and animals.

Biodiversity Surveys - We make surveys and combine them with an elaborate database of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and our own databases. We do comprehensive analyses of plants and animals and avoid "biodiversity" conflicts (biodiversity is a political and almost meaningless word). We compute 18 indices of biological variety (and do studies to find the practical, functional relationships).

Cut-and-Leave - We cut some trees, lay them on the contour and begin to rebuild soil and stop erosion. We create barriers on select streams to improve ground water and site quality.

Foot Trails - We believe well-designed foot trails are fundamental to total forest management - for fire breaks, recreation, "learning the area", inventories, security, hunting, etc. Special jogging trails are developed.

Health - Land health is of national importance. We have a strong program in integrated pest and disease damage management.

Ecosystem Management - A new policy of the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, "ecosystem management" is desirable, but inadequate. Emphasis, at least in the name, is only on one of the 5 E's used in the Rural System. Our approach is more comprehensive than the "ecosystem."

Watershed Management - Advocated for over 40 years, gaining acceptance in agencies, watershed management is now passé, surpassed by the computer mapping and modeling in our system called The Trevey and in our very site-specific management.

Value Added - We try to add value to forest products and yields in the region, not ship away wood to other areas where high gains in value will be made. We work with local companies to do so and attempt to improve local conditions, partially through Certification and providing employment opportunities.

Membership in Rural System Tracts provides you…

  1. A positive basis for tax deductions that also benefit the region
  2. A personal annual land evaluation report
  3. A unique regional hat
  4. Access to low-cost insurance
  5. Access to a credit card program that benefits the region.
  6. Access to caretakers for your land (if you live "away")
  7. Access to responsible land buyers or tenants
  8. Membership pin
  9. Information about tours for members
  10. Information about government programs and services available for your land holding
  11. A monthly newsletter about the region and the role of Rural System within in it
  12. Reasonable protection efforts from impacts of "development"
  13. A farmable sepia-colored computer map of your county and the region
  14. Testimony of forest issues before your county, town, city, and state governments.
  15. Employment opportunity notices
  16. Money and energy savings hints
  17. Resource-improving hints
  18. Substantial savings in
  19. Notices of special events and opportunities
  20. Sign for display at property entrance

There is much, much more that we can (and need to) tell about Rural System. They are lands and waters and the surroundings, but they are also a concept, a way of doing business, a respect for the land and people, all of which needs to be sustained. We hope you will join. Please give me a call (Bob Giles 540-552-8672) or send email.

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February 14, 2005