February 29, 2012
[This is Part One of a two-part series, originally published on LandThink, investigating the economic potential for investing in the management of land, wildlife, biodiversity, and water resources. Part One covers economic incentives from government programs for establishing conservation practices. Part Two will address private sources of revenue that can be generated from establishing creative and multi-use land use practices and programming.]
On March 1, 1872, Congress signed into law an act that established Yellowstone National Park, the first of 58 protected areas to eventually be designated as national parks. Thus signaled the start of an era in national policy characterized by heavy public investment in conservation and land management.
As of 2010, 138 years later, the Bureau of Land Management held nearly 248 million acres of public land. However, this represents a decrease of two million acres from 2009 and a decrease of 5.5 million acres from 2008. This reduction reflects an effort on the part of public officials who would prefer to see the federal government take a more limited role in conservation efforts while also using the revenue from sales of public lands to pay down the national debt. It also demonstrates a shifting priority away from direct public investment in conservation through outright land purchases and toward providing incentives to individuals and organizations to purchase and manage the land themselves.
While some see this shift as troubling because it means conservation efforts are more haphazard and subject to the varying goals of individual landowners, others see it as an incredibly lucrative opportunity to invest in conservation. Take T. Boone Pickens, for example. Recognizing the economic potential of Texas ranches, he has made a name for himself (and a lot of money) by buying working livestock ranches, improving them with wildlife enhancement programs, and then reselling them. As he recently told The Land Report, “We always made a profit from the ranch sales. But what I really feel good about is knowing that we left the land in better shape than we found it.”
February 27, 2012
For those of you drawn to the sporting life (which we can safely assume is all of you since you’re currently on our page), the Beretta Trident Program is an important development you should know about. Just as you might take note of how many stars a restaurant has been awarded, Berretta recognizes shooting sports venues with Tridents.
The Trident Program was developed in 2010 by FSC affiliate Sporting Heritage Corp in collaboration with Beretta, and has already become the standard-bearer for evaluating shooting sports venues. Seeking to evaluate the full guest experience, the program considers everything from food on the table to the kennels for the bird dogs, and everything in between. Lest you start thinking that you should be booking your travels only to venues that receive three Tridents (the most any venue can receive), keep in mind that only the top 5% of destinations worldwide are considered good enough to merit even one Trident.
To learn more about the world-class quality experience offered by Beretta Trident-rated destinations, check out the 13 venues that are affiliates of the Beretta Trident Program by visiting the website www.BerettaTrident.com.
February 9, 2012
What is falconry?
If you were to go ask passersby on the street for the definition, you would probably get a range of responses. Plus, that would be cheating.
So, allow us to provide you with some study materials. In this piece, the author, Tim Cahill, gives a humorous account of his efforts to discover falconry’s true definition. Indeed, in just a few short weeks, Cahill evolves from thinking of falconry as “that extinct medieval sport wherein guys in metal suits throw birds to fish” to a more enlightened view of the sport as “that flourishing contemporary field sport in which frenzied, monomaniacal men (and some frenzied monomaniacal women) soil their neighbor’s living rooms with bird droppings and run around naked in the snow.”
Really powerful stuff.
If you would like to read more about the author’s trials and tribulations in seeking this knowledge, as well as a number of his other insightful stories (we recommend the one about the outhouse built over a bat cave), you should pick up a copy of his book, Pecked to Death by Ducks. In the meantime, you can see a preview of the stories on Google Books.
To learn even more about falconry (or to start training to be a falconer yourself!), check out FSC affiliate Duane Zobrist of The Falconry and Raptor Education Foundation.
February 1, 2012
This one comes from John Blackburn of FSC affiliate, Blackburn Architects:
One of our readers, Kelly, had a few great questions for me and I’d like to address two in today’s blog. (PS – Kelly writes a blog called Ride, Groom, Feed -the journal of a New Zealand Rider.) I hope my answers are helpful as it’s somewhat difficult to be specific since so much depends on your site, your program, and your goals. Thanks for your questions and for reading.
Q: “How can you allow flexibility for future development (that may never occur) without constricting the initial plans too much?”
A: Building for flexibility has its limits and you need to at least have a rough idea about how things might change in the future so you can plan for it in a reasonable and cost-effective way. Too much flexibility could ultimately end up adding to your costs, especially if the future needs are never realized. Here’s a couple of examples.
Regarding a site plan, say you want to build a 12-stall barn now, but may add or increase it to total 24 stalls later. I would recommend building a 12-stall barn with all of the horse stalls to one end so that you can add the future stalls to the other end to produce a 24-stall barn. That way the barn services (tack room, feed room, wash stalls, lounge/office, bathrooms) are all located to the center, where they are most efficient for a 24-stall barn. At the same time, if the services are at one end of a 12-stall barn, it’s still efficient for daily use.
Another example may be the question of where to build a barn and an outdoor arena with the idea that you’d like to add an indoor arena at some point in the future. A master plan can really help you to determine a phased build out of your entire program over time. If you do it once and take the time to fully plan for your entire potential program, you can determine the best placement for each structure and identify potential pitfalls to your site, understanding what can work best for your needs. There is no easy or simple explanation in this instance, but a master plan will help you (literally) visualize your success now and into the future.
Q: “I live in an area where it rains a lot. What are the most effective drainage solutions? Where should run-off water go? What kind of drains are the safest?”
Make sure the barn is on high ground and that all grade around the barn drains away from the barn. Same with paddock gates and lead paths. You can create storm drainage swales that lead to bio-retention ponds or back into the ground without eroding the surface soils. Safe drains depend on where they are located and their size. I try to avoid any conditions where a horse can step into or off a ledge and suffer a foot or leg injury. Use French drains where necessary to drain water into the soil without creating surface conditions that become or create hazards. Good site planning is critical and is another area where an experienced equestrian architect can provide a valuable service that the inexperienced architect does not have (and you will rarely receive from the design build or prefab barn builder).