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Sustained forests; sustained profits
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The Pivotal StrategyBob Giles, June, 2002
The Pivotal Strategy is a part of Project Pivotal-Rig. That project promotes a new form of a sound, diverse, private-enterprise-based natural resource system for people. The Project is designed:
The Pivotal Strategy is a concept of Professor Bob Giles who taught at Virginia Tech for 30 years. It is a set of ideas that he wrote about and discussed with students and has decided to promote in various ways. The Strategy deals with a for-profit way of doing natural resource business and what some people call "conservation." Like a diverse conglomerate, the proposed company is composed of many small enterprises that are unlikely to succeed alone, but are likely to be highly profitable when working as a system. With elements of cooperatives and share cropping, the idea is for developing a system that makes profits over the long run ... a very long run. This is only possible if the resources and land are protected, restored, and improved and then given superior management.
Bob was educated as a forester and biologist and worked as a state wildlife biologist for years, then taught at the University of Idaho. Feeling that education and agencies have failed at achieving modern sophisticated resource management, he has struggled with the concept of a natural resource enterprise. He claims that there is not much new here in The Pivotal Strategy, only new arrangements and use of well-tested ideas.
The title suggests an essential central or core point or unit for an action program, set up, doing good work over a broad area. The title will probably become an Internet address.
Land is a code word for all lakes, ponds, streams, soil, crop fields, gardens, mined areas, pastures, rangelands, brushy areas, fencerows, and forested areas. It includes the roads, houses, barns, and related buildings. Whether it is "wild" or not may be only a temporary Designation and that is often a personal perception. Land is a volume, not just an area, and throughout Project Pivotal-Rig it is usually many 30 x 30-yard squares, from 1 mile below sea level to 1 mile above the Earth's surface. It is "land" as in "landscape."
At times, he seems to have an anti-science attitude, pressing to use what we now know, to use experience, only then to do more studies. He talks of mining the rich, unused banks of research results. Bob promotes the Pivotal concept and works toward moving into practice what he preaches ... computer-aided decision making for total land and resource systems. He invites you to consider the following ideas, use them, help others develop and use them, and profit from them. He presents concepts for a single landowner and large tract of land but he is really describing a set of such areas, all different and all profiting together. The larger integrated corporation is only a few steps away for the creative investor with a love of the wildlands and rural areas and what they mean to people.
He says he's "an environmentalist" if that means that he cares for the Earth and the health and well-being of later generations.
The Pivotal Strategy seems to be a pretty good idea. Simply: If you carefully stabilize reasonable profits from the land over a long period, society will be the better for it.
|The Tennessee Valley, over 26 million acres in a common drainage system.|
"It's difficult to wrap your mind around it" has been said to me several times as we have discussed Project Pivotal-Rig with others. I think that I can explain it better than I have done in the past.
The Pivotal Strategy expresses the current best thought about how to develop a strong, vital, high-quality life in an area of the US known in the past for riches from coal. The area is in western Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. It is called Central Appalachia but that has geopolitical and other meanings that are not close to The Pivotal Strategy. Everything seems related, but I'm trying to cut out a very big, but manageable, concept of a region with which to begin. What we are beginning in this Strategy is precisely describing how to allow the people of a region to remain in that region, to be self sufficient, and to simultaneously restore, create, and manage the complex bio-geo-physical resources of a region. I'll concentrate on a part of the region of the Eastern US that I'll simply call the "coalfield." For now, that region, about 200,000 acres, is clustered around Eagan in Eastern Tennessee.
The Trust is a grassroots non-profit organization founded in 1977 by the residents of Roses Creek, Tennessee, to give the people of the Clearfork Valley secure and affordable access to land and housing. Trust lands create a place in which residents exercise stewardship over the land. They work together for decent and afford-able housing, economic and environmental sustainability, and educational and cultural enrichment.
The Trust is acquiring a sufficient land base to allow residents to build a sustainable community. In doing so, this also takes land out of speculation, thereby dramatically increasing local influence on community economic development. The Trust owns 320 acres of land and demonstrates good timber management on 112 acres leased from the University of Tennessee. A rural settlement plan was developed and approved by the Campbell County Planning Commission to guide long-range use of the land.
The Trust offers 99-year leases on 1-acre homesites which can be transferred to a leaseholder's heirs if they commit to use the land in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The Trust's board of directors is composed of residents of the land trust as well as members of the larger community. This ensures that the people who live on the land control the rural settlement plan and the plan for economic renewal through forest management. It also assures that larger needs of the Clearfork Valley community are identified. The formal structure of the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and the informal association among neighbors makes the work of sustainable development engaging and challenging.
The Trust has 24 house sites, 6 acres of cultivated garden land, a picnic and theater area, and a 3-acre campsite. To assist low-income families from the area who wish to reside on trust land, the Woodland Community Development Corporation (hereinafter "The Community Corporation") was formed in 1989 to provide housing and small business assistance. By blending a variety of funding resources with sweat equity, the Community Corporation is able to provide afford-able mortgages. There are approximately 18 families (55 people) now living on Trust land and moving towards this type of home ownership. Two acres of land are committed to offices for The Trust, The Corporation, Appalachian Community Development, and a local communications center. Two acres of land are devoted to a sawmill and wood drier, and 275 acres of land are dedicated to sustainable forestry. The Trust has also developed a Living Learning Center related to Appalachian life and culture.
From Woodland Community Land Trust brochure, 2002
One writer, recently describing problems in the coalfield, suggested that people who live there and love the country should be given a "fighting chance" to stay there. Part of The Strategy is to develop the means for them to do so if they wish to, to allow them other opportunities, and to establish the independence and pride of being able to stay unsupported, independent of government subsidy and support. They may stay, have their fighting chance, but not ask taxpayers to fund their fight.
Historically, everyone wants land. Wars have been fought for it. The public has pooled resources to obtain it for them, collectively. It can be purchased, but only from willing sellers. "Fossil fuel and timber industries feel they need all of the land" has been expressed but some industries are disposing of lands. Alternatively, some new groups are forming to hold and manage lands. Herein, The Trust owns some land and the premise is that other land use rights (rent, easement, new contracts, specified rights, etc. including purchase at a later date) may be gained for extended periods of reasonable investment. That may come later. There are many acres in absentee ownership and the owners are believed to willingly purchase cost-effective, value-enhancing management and use of those lands. Some will allow their land to become one of the Pivotal Tracts. The Pivotal Strategy attempts to address
Groups of people need to overcome the results of past land use, past extraction policies, past enforcement lapses, and past landowner shortsightedness. The region has experienced the boom-and-bust conditions of mining throughout history. Of course the coalfields, like the world, have problems but, as Lomborg (2001) documents, they are getting smaller, not larger. Almost by all accounts, things are getting better and they are likely to continue to do so. Nevertheless, they are not yet good enough. Now the fight is simply with finding an answer to what do we do after the coal is gone? Of course the coal is not all gone, the prices are not stable, and research has not stopped on gas and extraction and processing.
Every day, local problems overpower thoughts about other areas and the future, but it may be that by thinking a little beyond "local" and "now," solutions may be found for problems. The next problem may be prevented. It may be that in the area there are (or can be created or brought in) valued assets in the new economy. Certainly some of these can be used (e.g., the Internet, genetics, bandwidth). Some of the old assets will gain new values (landscape beauty, old forests, re-attachment to the land, historical perspective, alternative pathways to personal success, escape from TV-addiction, dispersed living in the presence of terrorists, alternatives of groups of advanced-age people). This Project begins to address conditions now for the future.
There have already been great changes and many people are now suffering. At least they are not likely to reach readily their full potential in the areas that they call "home" in ways that they once did. They, through leaders, must concentrate on their real objectives, find the gaps between where they are and want to be, assess the probable magnitude and duration, and work on the set of important gaps ... getting the greatest total change per dollar or hour spent.
They must find a local solution(s), face the uncertainties and stigmas of becoming subsidized, or face the uncertainties and risks of life elsewhere. The Strategy is a description of a way that people can stay in the area that they love and build fine, vital lives there if they use the discoveries of the past, work hard, and develop new processes of a private enterprise. I'll describe the pieces of that diverse enterprise, but I think people of the region need to be suspicious, given past experiences and sure-fire fixes. I try to lay out all of the dimensions and bases for Project Pivotal-Rig for those who will read.
Call it a vision if necessary, but I foresee that when The Pivotal Strategy is followed, there will be a large corporation with a main office existing near Eagan, Tennessee. "The" main office (System Central) may be located elsewhere to accommodate some major business transactions but that will not matter because the Internet and emerging related technology will be united. There will be 20 indoor or office-based enterprises, 20 largely-outdoor-related enterprises. Much of the outdoor based work will be on private lands under contract. These Pivotal Tracts (the first being on Eagan Mountain) will be like a series of little national or state forests, but each having computer-aided prescriptions for management. The entire enterprise, a conglomerate, will be a "not-for-profit" private corporation. (This legal status allows net gains to pay salaries and to be built into the conservation-and-education corporation.) Starting in East Tennessee, the corporate work will tend to be advanced in the hardwood regions eastward (given resources from previous investment and the needs of the coalfield). There are no boundaries and even strategies of international tourism and other work. First efforts are for work on and with private lands. Later permits will be sought for special uses of nearby (then distant) state and federal lands. The objective is very clear: make profits ... but they must be sustained.
"Making profits" is a distinctively different phrase than is usually found in conservation and "non-profit" texts. It is almost a radically new idea within the wildlife, restoration, and preservation community. I address it here (and it will be treated again below) because it can influence the reading and reaction to the remainder of the text.
I understand and acknowledge "love of the land," ethical dimensions of forest communities, a desire for healing the land and its people, being among kin, and pride in a place in the country. I also know that I have begged for money for education and research for years and, though successful, I have not been able to stabilize a program. I know very well how stable the flow of bills is into the house. Taxes must be paid. The electricity must be constant for medical, refrigeration, and working needs. "Discretionary income" lets me have the pleasure of an occasional candy bar. We have to find the money! We cannot count on charity or politically derived sources ... for long. We have to get it in the "old fashioned way" ... but the actual work can be and has to be different, because now things are very different. The Pivotal Strategy is about making money, about creating a system that allows money to be made, and assures that it continues to flow. The two main reasons ... for the good of the people and the good of the land.
As I continue my vision, I see that direct financial gains benefit members, local governments, students and schools, and the land. Successful employees are likely to benefit handsomely. Secondary gains are from employment, a tax base, safety and security, improved health, and a spreading private-profit concept of improved and sustained natural resource management.
The Pivotal Strategy is a new concept made of tested parts. It designs and proposes for Project Pivotal-Rig to implement a comprehensive activity, a potentially-extensive set of activities for citizens as well as to visitors. The concept is as simple as:
To have a sustained, profitable, diverse, natural resource-related enterprise, there must be abundant, satisfied employees, residents, visitors, and customers who must find safe, interesting, beautiful, diverse activities and opportunities, some of which are novel, others that change little. Quality living occurs within managed quality spaces. Such spaces need to be restored, created, and managed soundly and cost-effectively.
People with whom I have discussed The Pivotal-Rig Project (and its relatives) have complained about its complexity, say that they need more information ... but fewer pages! ... and have asked for some scenarios that would help them understand the end results. Here are three:
Scenario #1- A Pivotal Tract Example
Every owner will be different, but it can be imagined that many families or companies that own land will voluntarily join Pivotal-Rig, Inc. Absentee landowners will find that the services are especially appealing. There are memberships for individual citizens of the region as well.
Keeping in mind that there are many profit-producing units that are not field based, and some conducted on public lands (e.g., ancient-forest-study experiences) and that these profits are being shared with the cooperating private land owners, it may be helpful to imagine an hypothetical tract of 180 acres. There are many large tracts of land, farms and forests, in the surrounding region. (There are many absentee owners who would like to have their land cared for and tended, lightly used, and improved in their absence for their families and their future. Diverse services are not now readily available.) Our early-recruitment objective is to have under superior management about 20,000 acres.
Assuming one such tract or ownership (call it "North 1," and realize that with our computer systems and data we treat each tract as unique), the owner received $10,860 based on the financial provisions (described later). This amount had been asserted for him earlier, based on computer analyses. System Central paid the real estate tax on the forested and pasture part of the farm, leaving the funds for the daughter's wedding, new vehicles, or further investments in Pivotal-Rig, Inc. and the county's well being. Similar returns were likely every 2 years.
On the Pivotal Tract, North 1, five acres were logged in small groups and re-vegetated and 30 trees were removed by individual tree selection. Three large basswoods were removed, sawn, and solar dried and later sold to The Pivotal Sculptors. The strategic emphasis: value-added strategies at most decision points. Ferns and ground plants that would be destroyed during the harvests were moved to the gardens of The Plant People. Emphasis: save or recycle. Forms were completed for SmartWood certification (value increases of about 5-8% without major investment). Roads were improved, water bars placed to stop erosion, and grass borders and shapes planted for wildlife. Shrubs providing wildlife food (and spring flowers) were transplanted on the road edges. Brush was arranged for grouse, artificial grouse drumming "logs" were placed. Part of the old road was re-developed to lead to a trail system. It led to a trail on an adjacent property. Emphasis: make profitable linkages.
The private trails, for both hikers and horses, were scheduled for use. Limited work by the trail safety patrols prevented conflicts found in other areas. During each of 100 days, two groups (12 each) of hikers walked the area during the year. Thus there were 2400 adult hiker-days, each at $35, resulting in $84,000 gross income or about $50,000 profit.
Three well-built, comfortable blinds were added for customers to add a wild turkey to their bird life list. This catered activity yield $1200, a $800 profit with partial owner return.
Thirty evening-catered "owl events"(described later) produced profits of $22,500. Twenty "fox events" produced profits of $15,000.
Deer hunters purchased managed-hunt-unit-days and produced a profit of $2000. Reducing costs and losses is as strongly emphasized as increasing production. Keeping deer populations under control is essential for forest regeneration and rare wild flower protection.
The Wildland Crew completed 2 projects on the area and provided financial gains for the owner of about $2000 (as well as the footbridge).
Anglers contributed $600, dog trainers contributed a modest $500.
A north-facing mine bench was planted in hybrid red oak seedlings for the long-term future. The planted trees were fenced against deer and goats. The goatherd was rotated over the owner's pastures, was part of a region-wide dairy herd making the area look like part of the Swiss Alps. Profits for the owner varied each year with disease and milk price (about $5000) but stabilized when a cheese-processing unit formed beside a developing winery.
Close to the owner's home, youth raised domestic rabbits. Animals were computer- selected and Pivotal-Rig, Inc. provided stock and feeds. The rabbits were processed for meat, hides, bones, and garden soil additives. The local gains: $200.
Pivotal-Rig, Inc. thus produced a substantial income, $98,600, 60 percent of which (i.e., about $59,160 annually) went to the owner, bringing the owner from having a costly and frustrating land problem with neighbors complaining about erosion to having a profitable role in a natural-resource enterprise. The enterprise improved the watershed of the region and benefited Lake users and shoreline owners, provided a tax base, offered local employment, and, some said, was a financially realistic way to stabilize the now-improving rural beauty.
Scenario #2- The End of the Day
A Pivotal sign goes up, the boundary is checked, and paint is added. Computer maps produced overnight provide new insight into the land production potentials and management needs. The especially-deep sediment-catchment pond becomes listed along with 50 others in a nationally prominent inland fishery. The pasture is weeded and fences go up to allow rotations of grazing to begin. Hand-held computers are used within the forest to produce an accurate inventory. The Trevey produces a management plan available from the Internet. Deer hunting zones (variable: half-day contracts; full-day; and 2-day contracts) are created and information becomes available to hunters on how the new area fits into the county level harvest potentials, both for animals, meat, and antler size. Wild turkey, a family favorite, is excluded from hunting on this Tract (owners' objectives are carefully studied). Youth and retirees tend one of five rabbit-raising facilities where animals are fed locally-grown foods and the fertile wastes are processed for the Pivotal Gardens.
Beautiful hiking trails are built, and, throughout the year, members of the Wildland Walkers with their colorful clothing are seen using the area and a few campsites. (Members pass knowledge tests and pledge to follow appropriate camping and trail behavior.)
A security force member hikes with the Wildland Walkers for a little ways, then moves off to check on a suspected trespass. She disturbs anglers a little as she passes, but they too evidently hold membership in The Fishery and are intent on recording fish taken per unit of time spent in the recently-fertilized pond. Records, contests, sustained yield per investment are all part of many Pivotal activities.
Local lectures become available. A topic discussed (even at the major US conference sponsored by Pivotal-Rig, Inc. and held nearby recently) is that of sustained yield. It's a phrase often heard in Forest Service circles because there is a law requiring it on public land. Pivotal is for private land, but public lands are used in some activities. The System seeks to sustain profits. Sustaining a yield of a low- or no-valued product can lead to bankruptcy! Combined lasting profit production - that of a total system - is the intent within The Pivotal Strategy.
The Safety and Security Group staff member walks by the area to be visited by The Owls Group from Lexington that night. She is on the way to the potential trespass site. Combined work, shared tasks, reduced costs - these are the recurring themes within the System. The Owls Group conducts a nightly tour to an area on one of the Forests. A group of people, after a wonderful meal, are bussed from a cooperating motel/restaurant to experience and learn about owls and their ecosystem, visit the tract, and see an owl "called-up" from the wild in the dark. After the excitement, a catered campfire with entertainment is held before the group makes a late return trip.
The profits are made for Pivotal-Rig, Inc. in the way the land is managed and creatively used. The work is with the animals and is enhancing, not exploitative. Cards, art, and photographs are available to the participants. Membership is offered into The Owls Group and a web site offers information, international owl-related tours, and insights into the environment and behavior of these fascinating birds. Some members add a new bird to their "life-list" of bird species seen. One member of the tour made arrangements for a CD - an e-book - to be developed by The Memorial Group on the great horned owl and published in the name of her father who loved the Tennessee woodlands.
Finding no trespass (reduced by her active surveillance), she returned to her car and passed by a group being introduced to the concept of a forest cooperative. She had heard Dale's message before - annual income, total system, certified SmartWood products, increased growth, value-added, local processing, solar drying, secondary products, enhanced hardwood ecosystems - high-tech solutions in the wildlands.
Pivotal-Rig, Inc. employed local staff and created new activities. There were new organizations, part-time workers, and jobs for children. Internet education now included a new wildland contest on the Internet. There were emblems, tee shirts, a bright bandanna, and even a new hat, but these local "things" hid the profound underlying motives of The Pivotal Strategy. They hid the opportunities for county residents, for the stay-at-home folks, for those not very interested in the outdoors. They hid the group spirit, the "can-do" attitude, and the angry turn against wastes and abuses of the resources of the county. They didn't hide the welcoming of outsiders who wanted dispersed living, a return to nature, the healthy rural atmosphere, mined-bench villages, ... all the while they were participating in world wide information systems and in globalization.
A forester finished his day's work. He had used satellites, computers and computer maps. He had found several plants of interest and drove to the office to report them. He passed by the Fire Force wrapping up training for the day. They were the new, proud "hot shot" fire-fighting unit for the region. (Imagine the costs of importing fire fighters [said to be superior] from the western states!) He passed by a dozen Pivotal Tract signs, the one sign pointing to the nationally famous cross-country-run training trail, and by two signs pointing to the Avi courses, the golf-like bird-watching courses.
In the main office several people worked at computers. Some studied computer maps on the walls. A Forest Service scientist visiting from the regional office leaned over a computer making suggestions for changes in NED, a powerful new hardwood analysis and land-use decision aid. There were challenges galore for visitors, opportunities for retirees, and this was a place where people came to learn how to really do superior, sophisticated, modern total land management. The local forester handed his plant information to a person who entered it into a data bank and a new map was automatically produced showing the actual and potential locations of the plant. It was a rare plant that could potentially require impact analyses, but the computer map spotted a site for a future tour for members of Nature Folks. In the corner, someone used unfit language in frustration as they assembled a book, the hundreds of pages of a Trevey "plan" or guidance document. Plans as "those dusty folders on the shelf" now had little meaning. Most people made their own copies or read significant parts of their personal land-use plan produced by Pivotal-Rig, Inc. for them from the Internet.
Four-wheelers (The 4x4 Group) assembled (they had met the day before in their special area) and members of The Fire Force joined them for a missing child search. Two dogs still in training from The Dogs Group were brought along. Their unusual barking kicked off honking by a flock of geese (The Pivotal Geese Group). Worried people appeared on porches. One had just finished painting a wooden utility box (for The Products Group). One had laid aside a basswood carving from The Forest Group. It was to be shown at The Sculptors' meeting. Bill could not hear over the sound of the power saw as he made the notable new bluebird houses from rough-sawn wood from thinned forests. After seeing what was the commotion, Ed processed more applications for The Old Codger, a group offering meaningful work opportunities to retirees. Two young girls on the
|Waterfowl on a reclamation pond of Patriot Mining Co., West Virginia|
There are many possible scenarios ...
Pivotal-Rig, Inc. may be a dream, but many people believe that it can be more than that with work and some risk taking. No private profits are made without someone taking risks is a basic premise of the Strategy ... no free lunches or risk-less games. Superior or "blue-chip" profits may be desired, but they are not guaranteed. They are very rare in agriculture or natural resource work ... anywhere, nowadays. Few landowners seek them because they have many other goals (for example a rural atmosphere, quality of life, pride of ownership, family place, personal freedoms, avoidance of certain stresses, recreation, etc.) that are equal to or surpass the objective of high-financial return on investment.
Nevertheless, the Strategy is grounded in the premise that "money talks" for almost anyone, and it includes a highly probable financial incentive for most actions suggested as part of the land restoration, enhancement, and management program. The pathway to the Strategy was not direct. It took far too long for me to see the elements, which I share, as the stories: The Coal County Land, The Consultants, The Wild Animal Populations, and The Football.
The Coal County Land
A Virginia Tech faculty member worked on a project in the Virginia coalfield (Wise County). The question presented for him was "What will we do with 70,000 acres of land when the coal has all been mined?" He sought to design the perfect farm/forest complex. After much work and computer modeling (Kroll 1982), he discovered that such farm units were uneconomical and that only when some great "economies of scale" were reached could things be profitable. He found that economies were available in single systems (like one for cattle or single crops) well distributed over the area but with centralized management, care, marketing, and product storage. The solution, for example: don't raise cows, operate an economical cattle subsystem.
The professor worked on getting profitable cattle but saw the herd as a way to manage grasses on strip-mine benches to increase insects for wild turkey broods ... leading to hunting and a recreational payoff.
Another Virginia Tech professor often spoke of the reason why forestry was failing. It was because ownerships were too small. Operations were unprofitable, equipment too expensive, local knowledge requirements (conveniences) too great, and timber harvests could not be rotated over the years to sustain either a reasonable cash flow or an operation.
The other thing he discovered (or simply "realized") that a perfect solution for one piece of land surrounded by failing neighbors and difficulties of many types was not a real solution. Regional action was needed to retain profitability of the single ownership, even if it was large. The seeds of an action Strategy had been sown:
Years ago it required legal action to get certain state and federal agencies to stop their operations. Action was initiated because private businesses could do certain tasks as well (or perhaps better) as the agencies and there were now markets for the products or services. This was part of the free market and private enterprise systems widely discussed. Within the realm of natural resources there remain private opportunities now performed by agencies and universities. One reason that there are few private activities within these fields is that citizens cannot compete economically with the size, scope, and financial backing of government supported offices. This situation is changing, can be made to change more rapidly, and suggests new private entrepreneurial opportunities in the near future.
Within some field of natural resource management, for example, there are few consultants. In some areas, there are too few public agents to even begin to "cover" the problems in a state. There are many reasons for this, but the insights gained in exploring the reasons behind the current conditions and the hold that under-funded and unusual-priority work suggest strategies of the proposed conglomerate ...
The Wild Animal Populations
Students of wild animals and ecosystems soon learn that when prey (like rabbits) are abundant, then predators tend to increase. There is cyclic behavior, one species is up and the other is down. There is a kind of constancy, a steady state that can be seen when examined broadly. It comes from many animal species, many different densities, and adaptability. The example can be followed in businesses.
Indeed it has. A major recommendation of economists is to "diversity your portfolio." The reasons for doing so are like those in nature for stabilizing animal populations. If an animal feeds off only one type of food and it disappears, the animal usually goes extinct. Similarly, single-interest or single-product businesses often crash. A key part of The Pivotal Strategy and the proposed conglomerate is diversify. That includes diversifying in time, space, and richness of offerings, and potential resource users.
There are over 40 major enterprises suggested, each located on or operating from a reasonably large ownership. All are not likely to be equally successful at any time. By counting the net gains from the total group of activities, then profits can probably be sustained.
The Strategy is for several ownerships to work together in a type of "cooperative" or following some principles of sharecropping. Few ownerships are large enough to sustain profits, the conspicuous objective of the Strategy. By forming small coalitions close together, extra gains (above those expected from a single ownership) can be made by all. There are administrative problems that will arise, but a question of whether the benefits outweigh the costs needs to be asked and answered almost every year. The major advantage is that great "economies of scale" can be gained, those for advertising, buying, office support, computers, transportation, year-around employees, and capital investment. Individuals may see The Pivotal Strategy as requiring too much loss of control or ownership. Major private assurances are guaranteed but nevertheless, the loss may seem to be too great. I believe in the basics of "money talks" and that "seeing is believing" and that some owners will not want to participate. This is expected and accepted. The activity must be free and voluntary. There is more work that can easily be done on lands of those that will care to participate. An early estimate is that within 5 years, over 100,000 acres will be under contract. Undue emphasis should not be given to land area but to the many units of the conglomerate, only half of which are outdoors-dependent.
The developing conglomerate can use the analogy of American football. Of course, the leather football on the playing field is important, but the total football enterprise is very large and diverse. It includes uniforms, the stadium, food, drink, clothing, advertising, grounds, publications, fan clubs, and more. The ball is important, but, compared to the greater football enterprise, it is almost irrelevant. By analogy, the tree or the wild animal is essential, but in the context of a total regional rural recreational and viable economic land use system, that entity may be almost irrelevant. Perhaps people in forestry or wildlife management and closely related activities have had their "eye of the ball" too long. Perhaps just attracting visitors (as in ecotourism) or producing more wild animals has not served us well and that it is now time to concentrate on the total rural and natural resource enterprise (or more broadly, the Pivotal-Rig, Inc. enterprise - profits from productive land, catering, lodging, equipment, products, organizations, guides, etc., etc.)
By analogy with football, when it comes to the regional problems, we have talked about ball handling too long. We have talked about trees, about coal, and complained about environmental regulations. We've been "brought up" to ask for government help. We can ask for help, but that has not been forthcoming, and there has been little change after 50 years of spending the little that has been provided for an enormous area. Adults in the region (only about 300,000 strong and emigrating, even with fine legislators), can't vote their way out of a cloakroom, much less a regional problem. We are gripped by the limitations of the single "cottage industry." We have not pondered the potentials of an integrated regional enterprise. We have been independent landowners! But now some in the region are threatened, and some individuals, even whole counties, are begging for help. We can be independent ... and dead. We need some group work.
The clear objective (and there is currently none for the public resource agencies):
The Pivotal-Rig, Inc. conglomerate holds few limits. There is no agency saying restrict thought and action; no between-agency competition for greater budgets; no overseer of definitions and proper work. The only limits seen are those of the legal system, ethical behavior, and profitable action ... over the long run.
One of the most fundamental ideas of The Pivotal Strategy is that of sustained profit making. The planning horizon is 150 years (the reasonable profitable life of the recently-planted forest tree) and it is sliding forward every year. Computer modeling and advanced accounting systems provide centralized, cost-effective services to the proposed members of the conglomerate. The long planning horizon tends to be unique (how can you tell when you are likely to maximize expected net-present worth from 40 enterprises together over a 150-year period?) and requires special discounting procedures for expected values. Special resource-related software as well as prognostic units are essential for managing the complex system and achieving a well-constrained investment Strategy. (Later these systems can be marketed.)
The Pathway Summary
These above four stories suggest the origins and parts of The Pivotal Strategy. There are other parts that need comments because the issues are extreme, the problems are long-lasting, and it is clear that others have worked on them with different strategies. Preston (1997:4) was seeking " ...a use from the mining process (my emphasis) that is sustaining and beneficial to the community," an unusual emphasis. Those other strategies do not seem to have worked ...well enough.
Sensitive to the special interests, needs, and personality of the people of The Trust community, I keep thinking about how to create conditions, better surroundings in which peoples' lives can unfold, their potentials be approached. This means working for benefits, achieving more, and reducing losses and risks. That means in some final analysis, one essential for rational people eager for cost-effectiveness, the measures must be in:
While written by a natural-resource person, and having clear forestry and related resource emphasis, this Strategy is self-consciously developed for people. With Lomborg (2000) I think that the needs and desires of people represent the grounds of my decisions throughout this Strategy. Of course plants, animals, and communities may have similar grounds or rights, but human evaluations are needed. People debate about trees, rocks, rills, and coal seams, as well as snakes and foxes. They act, even in life-threatening ways, of their behalf. Nevertheless, these "resource-things" cannot be assumed to have different rights. Animals may not be assigned rights, one species over another ... one age-class over another. Who shall be allowed to speak for each? If we select a "speaker," each animal or tree species will argue that it and its offspring is supremely valuable and important ... absolutely essential and of top priority!
The Strategy is a self-consciously human-centered view, but one in which dependence on life forms and preservation concepts are well-recognized and appreciated, more than bound by state and federal laws. It speaks to the inevitable conflicts such as between land for corn or trees or water for navigation or irrigation. Decisions have to be made by people, for people, and herein we beg for introspection as well as for applications of modern decision making technology and processes.
The Pivotal Strategy uses the analogy of sun in ecosystems as the driving force in human communities. In the community, the sun energy analogy is money. In biological systems, the three fundamental rules are (1) get energy, (2) store energy, and (3) reproduce. The success of these rules, seen over the eons, suggests merit for the Strategy and for the people it seeks to serve. The proposed corporation seems to be a way to gain money. To use it well over time there must be efficient people, using it well, not wasting it, being healthy, and gaining education to avoid risks and to stay alive as conditions change. Some communities have not maintained themselves or "stayed alive" (reproduced). Parallels with the three rules are easily discussed, but they need to be transformed into positive actions as if the community (at least Pivotal-Rig, Inc.) was a biological organism bent on survival. Dispersal is one reproductive Strategy used by animals and plants. In the Strategy dispersal relates to ideas, products, services, and Internet and market links throughout the world.
The human-elements of The Pivotal Strategy include working with existing health and education groups. Following intensive analyses, alternative educational strategies may be designed (related to clarity of behavioral objectives, cost-effective change, and realistic performance criteria). A youth element is available. Employment opportunities are expected to be motivational. A Safety and Security Group is one of the proposed enterprises of the conglomerate.
Why not "start small"? Individuals may do so. The ideas here are available and people are encouraged to pick them up and run with them.
I do not believe that many of the suggested small enterprises can be successful alone. The work units when attempted in the past were too small, capital requirements were too great, financial instability in environmental areas was almost assured, much work was seasonal, and there was no diversity to grasp opportunities or to sustain life during "slow" periods and while working staff also had to seek new contracts. There were inadequate backups and returns were too low. Only with synergism - "the extra" from work together and shared resources over different seasons - can this "work," make money immediately for the land and its people.
Why not start small? Advanced age and limited financial resources now influence decisions. There is not enough time; synergism is needed. Many small investors can make it work. It is a big idea (not a big stadium or big government project). It is of the right size for the region, the near future, and for the resources available - both financial and environmental. It is possible to stabilize employment, share resources, capitalize on local talents, exploit the advantages of dispersed operations, use the Internet, use the results of millions of dollars of past research and development (e.g., at Virginia Tech), use superior management, and gain the advantages of planned synergism.
When 1 + 1 + 1 = 4 then synergism has occurred. When insecticides are mixed, the killing effects can be synergistic, that is, greater than the expected simple sum of the two. Studies of systems have found synergistic reactions and this principle, one of gaining extra benefits for well-planned work and exploiting the unusual properties of systems is a core Strategy.
Central Administration and Management
Some of these synergistic events are found in System Central, the common administrative group of the conglomerate. It often uses triangular or tetrahedron structures (rather than pairs) to gain efficiencies. Central software often produces synergism when used by cooperating groups. Incubator-like services are provided. The activities of this group will be discussed later.
In a conglomerate, there is no requirement (except policy) as to where the profits will be made. The funds are pooled from all enterprises within the conglomerate. There is no requirement that a strip-mined bench must become fertile and grow its way out of bleakness and erosion. We live in a trading society. Goods produced in one place are rarely consumed in the same place. Production of units is where it is most efficient, not where the raw materials are produced or the demand is met. The very concept of sustainable forestry, for example the Smartwood certification of land, opens doors for wood sales internationally, generally enhancing the worth of exported wood by 5-9% ... because of very different demands and willingness-to-pay throughout the world.
Some of the small, proposed groups might be very financially successful. Others may have strong linkage roles or provide security, essential but "non-market. " Working together, they profit. Only as a "little ecosystem " do they survive together and profit.
Gaining income has to be combined with reducing costs or losses when discussing profits. A soil example may be of interest.
Soil is what people build on. It is what grows trees and feeds horses, people, birds, and beautiful things. In the region, landowners are losing about 16 tons of soil per acre per year. That has been going on for years but given little attention. It just has to be stopped! New awareness suggests that phosphorus, a key element in plant growth and human nutrition, is in short, declining supply and limited access. Within that eroding soil is phosphorus, a loss worth today about $32 per acre per year. Given the size of the region, the annual financial loss is staggering. Someone, a business, needs to get this loss under control in a region that is said to be in economic trouble. The key word is control, not just a tossing around a "prevent erosion " slogan as in the past. We need to cut our losses and add value to the things produced. Soil-related businesses (e.g., Novosoil) can do this; we need profit-oriented managerial control.
When objectives are clearly seen, incentives for reaching them become clear. Rewards for doing so are usually clearly seen. The system gas a scoring mechanism, R* (called R-star), that can be used with the public, a simple answer for "how are you doing? " Group pleasure with successes can be life enhancing. There are salaries, memberships, awards, reduced dues or costs, public recognition events, trips, etc. all designed to provide a lasting system that makes profits without exploiting people of the land.
For members of the conglomerate as well as for the public and land owners, we work on the basis that we are minimizing the difference between what people expect and what they experience. As managers, we can work on either element, or both, to reduce the difference. If, for example, we can predict and communicate a low song bird population of species X, then bird watchers seeking to see it will not be disappointed, and even those that do so may experienced an enhanced experience ... from the natural population. It may be that management needs to increase the numbers of x, reduce the users, or try to reduce the demand. The Pivotal Strategy is as concentrated on changing expectations and demand as on producing goods and services in the rural areas. (Psychologists like to discuss the difference as dissonance.) It struggles for cost-effective balance.
Avoiding the diseconomies of seasonal work and limitations due to weather are achieved by a shared work force, great diversity in year-around activities, and preparing workers for different, stress-relieving tasks throughout the enterprise. Emergency preparedness, guiding, patrolling, working on crews, fire-fighting training ...are as variable as marketing, software development, gardening, and product development and manufacture (The Products Group).
Value-added concepts are well known. There seems little merit (maybe "justice ") in cutting a cherry tree in the region, sending it to North Carolina, and having high-value furniture manufactured from it. To do so makes sense if an analysis has been done and the decision maker yet chooses to send the tree bole. An option might be to make furniture or blanks (handles, legs, etc.) locally (by sawing), to use the dust and scrap in mine reclamation, and to sell the blanks. Value-added strategies are suggested for sourdough, birdhouses, animal wastes, and SmartWood products of all types.
There is a general belief that people like to be members of good groups. Active or not, many people like to "belong" and to have knowledge about what groups are doing. (It reduces risks and opens opportunities.) Consistently, when people purchase items or take tours or participate in any way, there is an effort made to recruit them into a specialized membership with a group. Groups advertise for other groups. Each membership provides some funds, builds a client or customer base, builds an advertising medium, and lists potential members of a learning community. Costs are reduced by providing communications to members (and among members) by the Internet. Common software (of System Central) processes addresses, fees, etc. for each organization. Organizations typically have levels or membership classes gained by participation, education, tours, or passing tests of knowledge, experience or competence. Often equipment or publication sales are needed or used to gain new levels. Competition is encouraged among members. Clubs may form (e.g., The Sculptors may have many small local groups. Annual or periodic conferences can be held and these provide some profits and offer advertising times and places for sale or renting to advertisers not within the conglomerate. Part of the strategy is to keep people involved, to respond to their changing interests and needs, and to isolate diverse markets for specific advertising and messages.
Linkages are well known now that many people use the Internet. These are important, and the Strategy practices what is preached in ecology lectures. It studies relations of plants and animals to each other and their environment and then works with them ... to assure profit.
A forester visiting a tract will see erosion problems with a pond and refer that to The Fishery. A member of the Fishery will relay muskrat problem observations to someone working within the Nature Folks Group or The Pest Force. These could be competing groups, but by the staff having clear personal incentives, if the other group(s) succeed financially, the work gets done, resource problems are reduced, ideas flow, and income may be gained. Costs will be reduced since much cost is added in generally-unproductive time-afield by staff.
Recycling and Secondary Uses
We encourage thoughtful recycling, aware that is some cases there are toxic byproducts, high financial costs, and high energy costs.
|Walnut Grove, TVA|
Some of our products (The Products Group) are from raw materials that may otherwise be discarded (or energy lost by normal decomposition processes). For example, physically altered walnut hulls may find special use with the Stoneworms, a trail-building group.
Not "Ecosystem Management"
In 1994 the phrase "ecosystem management" was used for a new policy in the US Forest Service and it became adopted by other groups. It remains much discussed, yet-undefined, and there are few convincing examples of how it is consistently done and results evaluated. It remains of political rather than practical use. A paper is available describing its limitations and an alternative concept that is included within this project. Pivotal-Rig, Inc. can create viable, productive, managed ecosystems that are linked to people,their interests and needs, and participate as cost-effective entities in their lives (as well as in the life of the county, state, and nation). This is more broad (and more needed) than managing an "ecosystem" (like a pond or a timber stand.)
Modified General Systems Work
Over many years I have tested and used the elements of modified general systems theory. A vast library exists about it, but it can be shown as at the right. It has 6 elements and these can be used for analyzing or designing almost anything as a system. Taking a "systems approach" within The Pivotal Strategy means using this picture and its elements as the structure for thought and action, a two-dimensional checklist useful to design workable, profitable systems.
It names a subsystem (tentatively bounds a subsystem; the context), clarifies objectives (a new framework is available), and uses inputs and processes to achieve those ...and nothing else. Feedback is the set of corrective, adjusting, adaptive forces. It rejects "monitoring" because usually after it occurs, nothing happens. Feedback unifies monitoring with action to correct and adjust all aspects of the system, often. Feedforward is the hard work of predicting the future but also using that special information to shape all aspects of the current system. (As an example, if coal prices could have been "seen" to increase as they did a few years ago, miners might have taken different strategies to handling the over-burden and reclamation.)
To create the following units of a private corporation are proposed to be created as part The Pivotal Strategy. They can be adapted and adjusted to fit the conditions of personal tastes and experiences for the conglomerate, and certainly to meet the interests of cooperating landowners as they develop. Their successes require very personal decisions, risk taking, and decisions about how lands will be used, now and into the future. I recommend that serious consideration be given to each, that "no!" not be the first reaction, and that (as suggested above) one reaction be: "Can several of us make profits together?" or "How might my special talents be used somewhere within the conglomerate?"
Pivotal-Rig, Inc. can be visualized (with overlaps) as having:
System Central is the administrative, management, and leadership unit that also provides the major economies for the other enterprises. By centralizing many services and functions (marketing, accounting, legal, computer service, library, insurance, transportation, rentals, etc.) this group overcomes the major reasons why similar enterprise-efforts have failed.
The separate but collectively-managed enterprises of the proposed conglomerate are:
1. Camps - existing camps, and new ones; youth and adult, and a Writer's Camp
2. Dogwood Inn - inns developed in present homes or those nearby
3. The Memorials Group - providing a variety of awards and memorial services
4. Pivots - an organization for everyone in the communities and all of their activities
5. Nature Folks - organization for people interested in nature (with the following units)
6. Coyote - interest in the wild dogs of the world, particularly the coyote, all aspects
7. The Owls Group - night tours, publications, research, general interests
8. Prospectors - tours, publications, web site, geology and mineral interests
9. The Plant People - plant collection, gardens, seasonal-change maps all aspects
10. The Butterfly Band - insect identification, collections, field trips; bee keeping
11. The Wildland Knowledge Base - commercial library searches on natural resources
12. The Foresters - an organization for people interested in all aspects of modern forestry
13. The Realtor Group - automated property analyses for assisting in sale or purchase
14. Outfits- design and testing of outdoor clothing
15. The Tours Group - local, regional , and international field trips, commercial tours
16. The Products Group - arranges for production and sale of products (suggested list available)
17. The Sculptors- primarily a woodcarvers' group
18. The Software Group - federal software collection, applications, and programming
19. The Safety and Security Group - rural security patrols, security equipment, safety inspections and services
20. Fire Force - landscape analyses, computer analyses, "hotshot" fire crew
Most of the above are enterprise units that can be operated without contracts with private landowners. While recruiting private landowners and developing their lands for profitable uses is an important activity of Pivotal-Rig, Inc., the enterprise offers services to any landowner and operates many organizations (merely with one or more offices within the region). Some of the activities of these groups will first be conducted on Trust land then others on local, state, or federal lands such as those of the US Forest Service or State DNR lands) and later on the private lands of the greater enterprise.
A major component of the proposed conglomerate is that the corporation brings certain private lands of the region under a specialized contract and uses them for profitable developments in the other interconnected units of the enterprise. These are called Pivotal Tracts (described below) and the related enterprises are:
21. The Forest Group - total forestry system
22.Walnut Vales - single species emphasis, walnut nutmeats and wood production
23. The Deer Group - total deer management system, guides, year-around system, damage controls
24. The Fishery - total system with ponds, lakes, wetlands, and streams divisions
25.The Raccoon Group - single species system, fur management
26. The Black Bear Group - tours, management, research system
27. The Bobcat Group - monitoring, tours, fur, organization within Nature Folks
28.The Wild Turkey Group - hunting, life-list building, total system
29. The Dog Group- shows, dog training, field trials, wild-dogs of the world interest
30. The Pest Force- vertebrate pest damage management
31. The Wildland Crew - adult good work on good projects for fun and fitness
32. Wildland Walkers - hiking and camping group
33.The Wilderness Group - using and studying ancient forests
34. Stoneworms - a trail building group
35. The Stables- pastures, rentals, trail rides, horse health, wildlife and horses
36. The Fence Group- production of specialized local fences; fencing systems
37. The Pasture and Range Group - pasture and range management systems
38. The Goats System - dairy goat total system, milk, cheese, hides, services, health
39. The Gardens Group -system of many small gardens, vegetable etc.
40. The Pivotal Geese Group - system of many goose flocks
41. The Pivotal Vineyards- vineyard land selection, plants, management, grape processing
42.The Certification Group - Smartwood certification as a sustained forest with products
43. The Trevey - a dynamic land use planning system
44. Avi- the new sport of bird watching (with golf-like courses)
45. The Rabbit Group - dispersed small rabbit raising units; centralized marketing, etc.
46. Competency - field-based performance-assurance for natural resource specialists
...each described in the pages to which you may link by clicking on any of the above topics.
The Pivotal Tracts
Past efforts to do so suggest that Pivotal Tracts are difficult to describe. Here we attempt a very brief sketch. Pivotal Tracts are private lands of owners managed under contract for them and the region by Pivotal-Rig, Inc. they are intensively managed since each is best fitted to achieve one or more of the objectives of the long list of enterprises.
Many of these Pivotal Tracts may be lands of corporations. Some are lands of absentee owners. Most are larger than 100 acres but there are likely to be a few exceptions. Concentrating on forests, fallow fields, and lakes and ponds, the systems developed are to assist landowners to improve their "lands" (lands and waters, all resources), into profitable, well-managed systems that benefit their families or corporations as well as all of the people of the region. Careful attention is given to owner objectives and the limits they may place of full-scale profitability. Concentrating on the forests, attention must be paid to the surrounding fields and pastures, to the lakes and ponds, even the potentials for pest-wildlife in gardens. Land as a " total system" is the view taken.
Fundamentally, the big difference is that the landowner cooperator get annual income or its equivalent, rather than being the victim of " plant, wait many years, and then cut timber" which has produced the boom-and-bust cycle of the private small woodland owner of the region. Pivotal Tracts are private lands of owners who willingly join Pivotal-Rig, Inc. and who allow their lands and waters to be placed under superior management and use. Their taxes are paid, annual profits are made, and their lands increase in value and environmental quality, and they participate in the development of the entire region. They are relieved of the difficulties, costs, arrangements, and required knowledge needed to protect and manage the resources of their lands for profit.
With high-minded secondary objectives for the environment, employment, regional identity, and a tax base, the primary objective of Pivotal-Rig, Inc. is to make sustained long-term profits for the enterprise. We can do so because of our design, clear objectives, clear personal incentives, intensive shared management, computer optimization, diversification, minimum capital requirements, abundant never-used research results, and new technology (some which is Internet-based). We can do this only if the environment is well managed. Someone said, "It's good work for the right reasons."
"What will it cost?" is a typical question asked about a typical project. Pivotal-Rig, Inc. is not typical. A cautious answer is provided. Pivotal-Rig, Inc. potentiates investments in land. It "mines" billions of dollars spent on satellite technology and forestry and wildland research over 50 years. It develops a resource base for an uncertain future. It provides inestimable public relations value for its region. It reduces losses and has its own special security and limited fire protection program. It shows an alternative to agency management of land and current tax rates and destructive real-estate taxes.
Of course there are costs, but there are expected net returns (including yet-unquantified reduced risks) from investments. Forests in the public domain are usually financial drains on their neighbors. Even if direct costs are ignored, they represent a loss of land for taxation for communities. The cost of owning land is, at minimum, the annual tax burden on the landowner. One bottom line for success of the Pivotal-Rig, Inc. is that, at least, the annual tax-equivalent of landowners who associate with the corporation is paid. Another line-at-the-bottom is that the enterprise produces local community financial gains from the presence of existing public lands.
Venture Capital Repayment
Depending on inventory, adopted accounting procedures and policies, and the planning horizon, the estimated costs of system development can be paid over 6 years, with difficulty, exclusively from funds derived from the office-based groups. This is exclusive of the recruitment of Pivotal Tracts and development of other groups. With Pivotal Tracts in the conglomerate, profits are more assured. Demonstrated below, profits from invested annual income from Tracts can likely far exceed the value of any managed wood harvested at the end of a long investment period on that tract. We are not asking for "charitable contributions from logging/mining income" as someone suggested. The net annual financial gains for Pivotal-Rig, Inc. are pooled from
These gains include annual timber logging returns from Tracts described above. The owners of Pivotal Tracts receive 60 percent of the profits of the entire enterprise. Based on the acres (a potential-production-weighted acreage based on an index (including site index, ponds, streams, roads, etc.)) within the participating land ownership, the owner shares in a proportion of the annual profits. The more money made, the more both enterprise and owners benefit, all subject to the constraints of sustained profitability and those imposed by the land and climate.
I propose that he 40 percent remaining after disposition of 60% of profits to the owners of tracts will be distributed by System Central (tentative and based on the description herein) as follows (and note that these are percentages of the residual 40%):
The advantages of the unusual organization also create problems. All groups have a common accounting service within System Central. There are real dangers characteristic of the "Tragedy of the Commons." Each group is independently managed and very distinctive. General leadership is offered; there is group process, but each manager is autonomous. Rather than building an enterprise, as in many other businesses, each manager is building profits since these bring group and personal rewards. The costs of System Central (for the entire enterprise including repayments, described later) are large. After a few years, all groups within the enterprise share these proportionally (above a fixed amount). An additional 20% of that amount is charged as cost and spent on approved costs of group enhancement and growth for each of the first 6 years. Salaries and benefits are high and represent the major costs within each group. Merit raises are one of the expected cost increases. (Additional salary incentives are from the funds outlined above.) Each group pays direct costs for supplies, raw materials, and special services. The gross income minus these costs is the fund distributed by System Central (as indicated above).
Venture Capital or Line of Credit
Development capital is needed to implement all of the units or enterprises within the first 2 years for stability and continuous development. We believe that there will be individual investors having specialty interests in many of the groups, so a large single-source investment suggested as being needed may be misleading. Long-term. low-interest loans are desired.
Similarly, incentives from a "line of credit" allow work to progress in these new and unexplored ways with speed and reduced interest charges. (A slowly developed, less profitable, and more uncertain venture may be discussed and options will be developed. The intent of this Strategy, perhaps considered a first-phase Business Plan, is to display the entire concept, its potentials, and expected future conditions and gains for the people of the region.). We may cautiously add funds from the various properties and activities (intensive use of forests, pastures, facilities, and creative development of ancillary operations). Driven by incentives, the shared profits will build the enterprise. Most groups within the enterprise must be started at the same time or the unique, essential advantages of interactive work will not be gained and the enterprises will probably fail.
Nevertheless, modest, rather than total, development might be selected. Such a start reduces risks in managerial skills but increases the risks of the total system failing to perform at expected levels. It delays the development of the total system by many years. Estimates provided herein are based on all units being operational. Making estimates for unknown combinations and permutations of the presented enterprise units is impossible. An evident strategy of picking the sub-units or groups from Table 1 that have the highest returns and lowest costs will not work, any more than creating an organism by combining a heart, a lung, and a nose. Of course special combinations of the enterprises will work! Exploratory work seems reasonable.
Estimates of both costs and gains are very difficult. Some groups, at least by the middle of the second year, will be profitable. Conservative estimates of the profits from each unit are shown. These are strongly influenced by an effective System Central, itself a unique concept in natural resource management, and by supportive ancillary units being developed well. Complete failure of any unit (though difficult to imagine) does not jeopardize the success of Pivotal-Rig, Inc.
Estimates for "the bottom line" are in Table 1. The financial analyses are complicated by assumptions about starting times and groups with which to start. All should be started at about the same time, depending on financing and securing enterprise managers. All starting will assure maximum positive interactions and the benefits of diversification. The plan is to start System Central and at least six enterprises simultaneously, but an assumption is made that all will be started within a 2-year period. Subtle differences of personnel, equipment, recruitment, marketing, etc. all make a specific starting time impossible to specify.
Approximate values are used for each unit or group. Three estimates are presented, low (a financially poor showing, only small contribution to the greater enterprise), mod (moderate, conservatively likely), and high (desired gains for self-perpetuation of the conglomerate by year 7).
Some comparable financial information is provided for similar or closely related activities. Many groups shown here have never "worked" because they were never within a larger system. In some cases, best estimates of a similar imagined enterprise are used. As always, a poor manager, a recession, or a catastrophe can deny any estimate of success. Each enterprise is described and its potential suggested, then a summary of the finances is provided. In the end, the best estimate of the bottom line is that at the end of 7 years, at 5-6% return on the development investment, Pivotal-Rig, Inc. can be making
$2.3 million net-gains annually
and also providing employment, youth activities, a growing tax base, continuing work to improve the quality of the environment ... and beginning to expand throughout the Tennessee region, and into Southwestern Virginia.
The proposed conglomerate has been discussed. The last of the three main parts of Project Pivotal-Rig is the topic of modern sophisticated resource management.
Using the gross analogy of the region as a factory, sustained profits from almost any factory require a clean, orderly, well-managed place of production. By analogy, high quality outdoor recreation and satisfactory tourism required a safe, clean, beautiful, stable or improving, non-threatening environment. The region has that now, and it can be improved, then stabilized with intensive management. We are of a notion, somewhat like that of the farmer who "ain't farmin' half as good as I know how." We know of few places where advanced techniques of natural resources are abundantly applied in a sophisticated manner backed by high technology and literally millions of dollars of past studies and research. We do know of special applications of pieces of knowledge and excellent demonstration areas for single phenomena and processes, but we know of no place where modern, sophisticated, decision-making is widely applied, where total systems management attempted. We cannot find where cost-effectiveness rules; we see merely efforts in achieving single-minded efficiencies.
I'm are not proposing research (for at least 5 years) because there are already more findings that need to be used than can be used in that period. I have a system design that can work. I propose to rely heavily upon geographic information systems of the Conservation Management Institute of Virginia Tech which produced the above vegetation map of Virginia. We will use satellite-based locations in our fieldwork, and these along with field computers and new forest inventory software, can result in major forest resource development economies. We will use combined simulations and heuristic optimization for the diverse tasks encountered on different Pivotal Tracts. Above all, we have the clarifying objective of profit maximization (but we hasten to repeat a major difference from typical business practice ... profit from the total system over a 150-year planning period). We have new algorithms for vegetation transitions ("ecological succession") and for scheduling land treatments and timber harvests. We have watershed models, ways to map the upland soils, and ways to estimate and map changing "biodiversity." We employ feedback at most nodes, probably matching well with the much-discussed "adaptive management." We work at the regional scale, but have data about the conditions in very small land units throughout the region. We use the Internet to provide land-use plans to individual landowners, plans that contain the results of computer optimization. We provide analyses of populations of animals as pests (e.g., deer) or as much-sought hunted species. We have access to a vast local as well as international library system and knowledge base. Working with premises of general systems theory, we are building a database about the coalfield and its region as the enterprise matures in concept and application. Waste of information is reduced; "re-discovering" is inefficient. We use advanced prognostic or forecasting software and procedures, even improvements for local conditions and processes. We can exploit the resources of Virginia Tech and colleges and universities as they may relate to the area, for now we have an objective, a format, and a process. We have noticeable payoffs (described above) for individuals as well as the region. As we have heard several times, there is a belief that "money talks." In Project Pivotal-Rig we have a designed a system that will provide money and many benefits to citizens. We have designed a means to stop begging for grants and gifts, for ethical concerns, for donations from owners of large land units to restore and preserve the environment. We have dodged the tendency to ask for tax funds. In fact with maturity, funds are provided the County and region. We have found a means to support and perpetuate the benefits from lands if they are placed under technical land easements within existing programs. Herein we are not advocating creating such easements, simply the sophisticated management of rural and "wildlands" of the region. We have found a financial base for assuring benefits from regional beauty as well as from its commodities.
Why can't we just hike and enjoy the region? Why add money to the issues?
Pivotal-Rig, Inc. encourages hiking or inviting people to see the beauties of the area and to use the resources here without spoiling or depleting them. It is a Strategy for making money and shaping the county so that more money will be made more easily. It responds to people in cities, to single parent families, to lack of outdoor experience, to new demands for safety and security. There has been some poor land use in the past. We need to correct that. There has to be a new (low-tax) way to gain all of these things that people seem to need. Hiking, alone, will not pay the bills for the care and tending of people and land that is needed.
How can we get people to come to the region?
Maybe we cannot. We have to have something to offer. At least a concept of what we might offer. We have to spend money competing in the marketplace for peoples' attention and willingness to travel. We may find solutions in becoming a manufacturing and processing place, a warehouse area, a development place, and a specialty educational space ... not concerning ourselves with providing abundant, quality parking spaces. Comfortable touring busses for small groups offer special opportunities for bringing specialized customers to the area. Profits can be made without many visitors.
Why will people use private lands when there is so much public land?
If they come to the area or spend money in the enterprises, few will care about the answer. If private lands of Pivotal-Rig, Inc. cannot out-compete public lands, the "market" will speak. Few people know about the National Forests. They are not marketed. On private lands of Pivotal-Rig, Inc. some people will find quality management, colorful and esthetically pleasing places, novel trails and experiences, diverse levels of use, information, safety and security, shared memberships, new friends and contacts for other experiences, and pride in participation. (There are others who will continue to use public and other lands.) Special use arrangements will be made for groups to use segments of public lands and waters locally and throughout the US.
Why not emphasize fishing? It is discussed at length in The Fishery (in the last section). There is a wonderful un-exploited resource that can be created here. Mined-area ponds (hundreds of them) offer special challenges. A Norris-Lake fishery needs to be explored. Cooperative work may be arranged with people interested in managing the threatened fresh-water mussels (part of their life history being dependent on the proper species of fish being present) or funds may be found to work out the important (neglected) role of managed minnow populations in wildlife food systems. Silver Waters, a proposed trout fishery is being designed. Aquarium systems for native fish enthusiasts may be an opportunity.
Why not get a grant?
We have a policy of attempting to be private, attempting to avoid taxpayer funding, and avoiding competition with and costs of doing business with agencies. Private foundations will be requested to assist us, but the concept outlined here matches poorly the objectives of known foundations. We shall request that certain foundations sponsor software development that may be used in other regions, to test the model of Pivotal-Rig, Inc. for other regions, to build integrative decision-support and expert systems, and to evaluate county-level resource changes under an entrepreneurial system. Later, a Pivotal Foundation as part of The Trust may be created.
What about salaries?
This is strictly a personal-incentive-driven organization. To the extent that we "win," we all get higher pay. We, the enterprise, start as volunteers or receive low salaries but, unlike other "outdoor jobs" that are sought by many people, the conglomerate has no salary ceiling and massive incentives. Few jobs will provide such knowledge and a feeling that genuine good is being done for so many people over so many years. Investors will be attracted even though initial gains will not be great. For them there will be tax advantages. Citizens, however, may find the investment very desirable. There will be "dividends" or interest on loans made to the system. There will be membership rebates, reduced costs, and many special personal advantages.
Does it compete with local companies?
We believe it will enhance and add to the profits of local companies. We have a means by which they can affiliate, participate in our marketing, and share sales and services for the people to which we respond. We are willing to discuss opportunities with local people and businesses and do not seek to compete with but to complement and add to the gains of existing and developing groups. We plan to add to and employ the Internet-linked equivalent of many "cottage industries" and companies throughout the region.
Sounds communistic!? Collective farms, shared resources, and all that. Is it?
No. The enterprise displays a paradigm of a free-enterprise-based regional economic development system centered on modern, sophisticated rural-land and natural resource management for the 150-year sliding future. It seeks voluntary cooperation among landowners. Its message is that if the land and its managers and neighbors do not produce profits, the enterprise may not be working. Sustained profits are the quest but, regrettably, "cut-and-git" may prevail. We believe that managed land sale value will exceed the value of intensively logged lands and we believe we will soon have the numbers to prove that. Nevertheless, a combination of strategies in land taxation and regulations may be needed to assure desired land use for the future.
What about Cross' statement: "A society that reduces everything to a market inevitably divides those who can buy from those who cannot, undermining any sense of collective responsibility and with it, democracy."?(Gary Cross, An All Consuming Century, 2000)
This is a Strategy for those who pay taxes (and those who don't) and those who want those taxes to be reduced and better results obtained from them than in the past. It's to legally gain money for people so that they can buy what they need and want. It provides incentives rather than counting on responsibility (which doesn't seem to have worked in the past). It has all of the elements of Jeffersonian democracy, grounded in educated voters with a love of the land and a view of the future.
What if it fails?
Any enterprise can fail for one or several of many reasons. Low capital investment and facility requirements suggest that the fall will not be very great. It needs to succeed. There are few alternatives that will serve the entire region. Current land-use and natural-resource management now seem to fail by several criteria (and have in spite of substantial funds being allocated and educational programs) and new direction for action with a payoff is needed.
Several people have asked: "How do we start?"
No humor suggested, the answer is: "as if to describe an elephant ... anywhere that you want to!" There are many ways to get started and selecting the best one has risks. There may be 2-3 enterprises among the ideas that might provide a single start but with only one, there is not the power to make the changes stated as needed. (I've surrendered to Dr. Charles (Buzz) Buffington's advice and provided a one-person, personal opinion on a start. Doing so, denies the above comment but there may be other reasons for an alternative strategy.) Potential investors, managers, and landowners are invited to begin discussions. Enterprises now involved in the units listed may be interested in cooperative arrangements, a startup-coalition. You are encouraged to ask questions and call or write Bob Giles 540-552-8672 or send him an e-mail. (Of course, correspond with Ms. Marie Cirillo or Dr. C.D. Buffington.) A visit can be readily arranged. I shall gladly address interested groups.
Kroll, G. 1982. Computer aids for reclaiming eastern surface mines as rangelands. Unpub. M.S. Thesis, Va. Poly. Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va. 272 pp.
Lomborg, Bjorn. 2001. The skeptical environmentalist. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY, 515p.
Preston, P.J. 1997. Community involvement and the determination of use of surface mined land: Eagan Mountain Case Study, MS in Planning, Univ. Tennessee, Knoxville, 118 p.
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