Preservation, Restoration & Conservation

The great issues of war and peace often affect us less than where and how we live. Most of us are familiar with the recent Kelo case of eminent domain, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Every day, people are losing control of their properties as our land use patterns become a matter of other people’s tastes.

There are important distinctions between terms like preservation, conservation and restoration.

Preservation keeps things as they are or as proponents think they are. It has the feel of a museum. Things are beautiful, unchanging and dead.

Restoration takes the situation back to some period in the past. When is the question. For example, a plantation might have been built by an early colonist, developed by a founding father, occupied by Robert E. Lee, used by the U.S. Army during World War II and now owned by a prominent celebrity. Which period is the one to restore?

Conservation means you use it wisely in a sustainable fashion. They key words are USE and maybe WISELY.

All three are good things in their proper place, but they don’t coexist well.

People move from the cities into rural areas because they want to participate in a life closer to nature, but they often don't know what that means. They want to preserve what they think they have found or restore an older way of life. These things they can't do.

If you want to get an idea of how preservation works when urban culture meets a rural neighborhood get a banana and put it in your coat pocket for two weeks. Now tell me how well you have done. You can't preserve living things or living communities. This is a job for conservation.

Let me give you the example that made me consider this subject. I was talking to a poor guy who was being sued and harassed by his new neighbors. A group of preservationists who claimed that they wanted to build a community that could allow urban people to live in harmony with a rural setting had approached him. They wanted to develop a "clustering" where the houses were concentrated on one part of a development and the rest was supposed to be preserved for the rural lifestyle. This worked for about a year, until my guy tried to cut timber. It seems that timber cutting is not part of the lifestyle. He subsequently had trouble with his pigs, because they stink and his cows because they crap on the roads. Oh yeah, nobody liked the hunting.

Telecommuting and changes in how we do our work is allowing people to live farther and farther from cities and towns where they work. In a very real sense, rural areas are disappearing. There are more and more places with rural population densities, but increasingly urban populations (i.e. few people actually make their livings from the rural economy.) Newcomers are in the rural areas, but not of them and their attitudes are destroying the Arcadian paradise they came looking for.

Timber, meat and grain have to come from somewhere. If all the world is a preserve, where will that be?

BTW - although it is a growing trend, urban lifetstyles in rural areas are not new. Check out this interesting lecture on Thoreau and how the forests have returned since his time.

Posted by Jack at January 21, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #115355

I know how your guy feels Jack.
My neighbor across the road from me sold some wooded land over by the river to a bunch of yuppies from Valdosta. They cut a road in, divided it into 1 acre lots, and built homes. While that didn’t bother me, what bothers me is they don’t like my cattle grazing 1/8 mile and across the road from their homes. They’re telling me that I’m violating their covenents and restrictions by having cattle within 1 mile of their houses. TOUGH CRAP! I’m not part of their development so their rules don’t apply to me. They cann’t even see my cattle from their homes.
The ‘Community President’ told me that they didn’t buy the land and move out here to live around a bunch of farmers. AGAIN TOUGH CRAP! If folks don’t want to be around farmers they need to keep their city slicker asses in the city.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 22, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #115356

This goes to the heart of a persistent contradiction in the rhetoric of the most militant preservationists.

Here’s a classic example: On one hand, we’re told that we must find cleaner sustainable alternative fuel sources, but “the not in my backyard” mentality acually prevents it from being done when the opportunity prevents itself.

When they tried to put up windmills off the coast of Cape Cod, the elite liberal set—the Walter Cronkites and John Kerry’s who enjoy the views form their mult-milion dollar beachfront properties—screamed bloody murder.

An organic dairy? Those things smell! Take it indoors!

The worst case of all is the opposition to drilling in ANWR, which could be done using modern technologies with an environmental impact far less than what is seen in places like Russia or Venezuala, where things are done as cheaply and dirtily as possible.

On one hand, we’re told to “think globally,” but on the other hand, environmentalists set the stage for the environment to be raped and pillaged in nations who share none of our environmenal concerns.

Every barrel of oil extracted from ANWR, under strict regulation and with the best modern technology, would be one less barrel that would have to be extracted in somewhere like Russia, where the bottom line is their only concern.

And cleanly produced nuclear power? Forget about it.

Posted by: sanger at January 22, 2006 12:37 AM
Comment #115361


I’ll be much more inclined to be for nuclear power once we know what to do with the waste. And I don’t think we even know the effect on the environment that is occurring now. It’s only safe if nothing goes wrong.

I thought I understood that there are scientists that felt that the amount of oil we retrieved from ANWR wouldn’t solve any problems. I admit to not knowing that much about it.

Coming from farm country, I love the smell of a dairy. Now a pig farm is another story, but I’m learning, LOL.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 22, 2006 1:01 AM
Comment #115363

I think you’re a bit confused in your discussion of preservation. It certianly does not mean dead. True, putting a banana in your pocket will by no means preserve it. That is why preservation of the land belonging to the tree that banana came from is so important. Also, where do you get “maybe wisely” in describing conservation. True, timber, meat and grain have to come from somewhere. Therefore, shouldn’t conservation of these resources be a more imenent topic? Shouldn’t we be using them MORE WISELY seeing that they are limited resources?

Posted by: Katie at January 22, 2006 1:03 AM
Comment #115379


“Every barrel of oil extracted from ANWR, under strict regulation and with the best modern technology, would be one less barrel that would have to be extracted in somewhere like Russia, where the bottom line is their only concern.”

Do you really think that the oil companies are that altruistic?
If that is the case I have some swampland here in Arizona I have been trying to unload.


This is the same senario that happens when people move into the flight path of an airport expecting the planes to make no noise.
It is possible to build in a rural area, and have the building fit into the surroundings. To expect the surroundings to fit into what you expect is lunacy.
On the subject of replanting a forrest. I had the pleasure (sic) of visiting an area of Idaho that had been clear cut by timber companies in the late 1800’s, the density was untrue to what the forrest should have been. Sure, there were plenty of trees of the type that should have been there, but they were all the same size, and there was a lack of the undergrowth that should have been there because of inadequate sunlight due to the density of the trees. Forrests just don’t grow the way we plant them.
It is one thing to say that there are more trees than before, it is quite another thing entirely to have a quality forrest. I think that you of all people would realize that.
BTW, Thoreau’s writings are some of the dullest I have ever had the displeasure of reading. It is like a man that talks just to hear himself.

Posted by: Rocky at January 22, 2006 1:51 AM
Comment #115429
And cleanly produced nuclear power? Forget about it.


Burying nuclear waste in the side of a mountain doesn’t sound too clean to me.

I thought I understood that there are scientists that felt that the amount of oil we retrieved from ANWR wouldn’t solve any problems. I admit to not knowing that much about it.


Actually it was a U.S. Geological Survey that showed ANWR may contain about ten billion barrels of recoverable oil, this would satisfy perhaps 3 or 4% of the U.S. daily demand. Not too impressive for the potential damage that could be done.


I just can’t understand the stupidity of people who move in next to something they know is there, then complain about it after the fact. I would have probably told them all to go to hell. I work in a community hospital located in a highly residential area, the hospital is not a trauma center, and we must transfer patients out to larger trauma centers in the area. The ER has a heliport for Life Flight when time is of the essence. The hospital has been there for 80 years and the heliport for as long as I know, but all of a sudden the neigbors have started complaining about the noise of the helicopters. Say what? These people bought their houses knowing full well that the hospital and the heliport was there. Plus, I’m sure that if they or a loved one were in a trauma situation they would be the first ones demanding to be flown out.


Eminent domain is just a bunch of horsesh*t. Where I live the city took a house through eminent domain proceedings to create a “round-a-bout” in a 5 way intersection, to improve traffic flow and safety. Ok, sounds reasonable. Except that after wasting God knows how much in taxpayer money on court proceedings, they ran out of money to build the “round-a-bout”, and the lot where the house was, sits empty. Government in action, folks. What a joke!

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 22, 2006 4:18 AM
Comment #115510

Katie —

Timber, meat and grain are probably our most unlimited and renewable resources. I’ve been involved in the production of all three and had no trouble doing so on a sustainable basis with no significant or permanent damage to the local environment. Before you start suggesting a solution to an issue spend some up close and personal, hands on (yeah, get ‘em dirty!) time with what you see as a problem.

God loves ya!

Posted by: R H Clary, Jr. at January 22, 2006 8:54 AM
Comment #115583


We can try to preserve some things, but not too much. There is no particular reason to preserve large areas of our country.

Preservation requires a lot of work. You can’t just fence it off and let it alone. That does not preserve it. If you have not done, listen to the lecture at the bottom of the post.

The “natural” community we think we want to preserve is not natural. The forests the first Europeans found were “managed” by Native Americans, usually by using fire. Thousands of square miles of natural tall grass prairie would (and are) reverting to forest if they are left alone.

Nature doesn’t have a position on what we do with the land. There is no such thing as a natural balance. If you look at the natural history of the last 10,000 years (not long in nature’s time) you would find that even our most ancient natural communities were probably at one time covered with ice, tundra, short grass, long grass, desert and a dozen different kinds of forests. So which one is THE balanced state?

Conservation, recognizes that nature is in constant flux and that we can work with that. If we do that right, we can live with nature forever, or at least as much as any human can understand. Excessive preservation will destroy that balance.

So preserve some of the giant redwoods, preserve Mount Vernon and Monticello, build a fence around the bristlecone pines, but use the rest wisely.


It depends on how you manage the forests. We are learning a lot about how to do it. One of the things we learned is that PRESERVATION doesn’t work.

I agree with you re Thoreau. His significance is not in what he actually wrote but the effect of what he wrote on subsequent generations, many of whom have never actually read any of his work. Do listen to the lecture.

One of the problems with forest these days is that they are too “natural”. The woods are too thick and there is too much undergrowth. This is not the kind of forest you would have found in 1620 and probably not the kind of forest you want.

Posted by: Jack at January 22, 2006 11:19 AM
Comment #115612

Your right, we need to preserve the land that wood, meat, and grain come from. As well as the bananas. And with our growing population we also need housing for people.
It becomes a balancing act. As cities grow they take up more and more farm land. Once this land is developed it is lost forever for future farming. At least with todays technology.
I’ve often said the way cities could grow and not take up more land is to redevelop older run down neighborhoods. They could use smaller lots and get more houses in the same space. At lot of new developments are doing this already. So insted of the new developments taking up much needed farm land, they will simply be replacing old blighted neighborhoods for newer more modern and valuable ones.
The city can get more revenue from these neighborhoods and farm land isn’t destroyed.

JayJay Snowman
I reckon people just don’t concider that things like farming, health care, and flying will continue after they move into an area.
Up in Atlanta about 20 years ago or so, the poeple that lived under the flight patterns of Hartsfeild sued the airport because of the noise. They forced the airport to buy their houses at an inflated cost and pay their moving expenses. Most of the people moved there long after the airport was built. They knew that air traffic flew over or near their homes when they bought. But it was the airports fault they heard the planes taking off and landing.
BTW, I’ve told that bunch of yuppies to go to hell several times. I think the only reason they haven’t taken me and the other farmers in the area to court is because the judges and jury pool in this county for the most part are farmers too.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 22, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #115645


I read that between Utah, Montana and a couple other states the U.S., at a conservative estimate, has three times the oil we recieve from Saudi Arabia. I was wondering if anyone knew something further on this, like why we aren’t drilling or if it’s even possible to drill.

Posted by: andy at January 22, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #115674


A resource exists only in relation to price and accessibilty. At $30 a barrel, some places DON’T have oil. At $60 a barrel, more places “have” oil. That is why oil can’t go much about $60 for a long time. When it does, the oil in other places starts to appear.

Posted by: Jack at January 22, 2006 4:34 PM
Comment #115681


Part of it is a matter of economics. Canada actually has the largest deposit of oil in the world; unfortunately, the bulk of it is in the form of oil sands. The process of extracting the oil from the sands has been cost prohibitive until just recently. The only reason that it has become economically feasible is because oil now sells at a high enough price that it is profitable enough to do it.

Again, I am not sure who your source is, but according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy “If the United States were forced to rely on its own resources, it would run out of oil in four years and three months. This calculation takes into account the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which President Ford created in 1975, and which is stored at a number of sites in Texas and Louisiana.”

It has also been remarked by Lee Raymond, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, that there is not enough oil here to make it profitable and that they would have been better of financially if they would have abandoned Gulf of Mexico oil exploration after sinking one well there. (I take it this statement was made before posting world record profits.)

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 22, 2006 4:57 PM
Comment #115699

I can’t find the original source but I did find this: This was the most simple but if you google utah oil deposits there are many more links. I just think that with the opportunity to be much less dependent of the middle-east, that there would be a way to make this work.

Posted by: andy at January 22, 2006 6:39 PM
Comment #115907

A good article on this subject -
Warriors for the West: Fighting Bureaucrats, Radical Groups, and Liberal Judges on America’s Frontier

Posted by: Jack at January 23, 2006 4:23 PM
Comment #116046

Once upon a time we actually owned our property and we used it to make our living.Then we were taxed on it to raise money for our schools.So even after we paid for it we had to keep paying and paying and paying and the schools got worse and worse and we payed more and more and more to fix them and they got worse and worse and we payed more and more and the schools are still turning out less educated people than my Father who did not finish the 10th grade.They have a document that says the are educated but when they find a job,they have to go to school to learn how to do it.Believe or not our Constitution and the Bible are written in 8th grade English and can be understood.We should teach the Constitution and the Declaration of Independance to our children in school and allow them to study the Bible if they choose and they will see the Laws in the Old Testamant are where our basic laws came from and they would not be so easily fooled by the people in Washington who say they are protecting our civil rights,they would know who to believe because they could understand what the Constitution says.

Posted by: RDAVIDC at January 24, 2006 12:35 AM
Comment #116370

The best way to become less dependent on foreign oil is to find alternatives to fossil fuel. The handwriting is clearly on the wall. In the not-too-distant future it will become impractical and economically prohibitive to own your own vehicle. Instead of talking about ways to extract more oil for more gas-guzzling SUV’s why not talk about mass transit alternatives?

“Conservatives” conserve nothing.

Posted by: Lee at January 24, 2006 5:11 PM
Comment #116443

I definitely agree that hassling of old landowners by new neighbors and residents of new developemtns is absolutely outrageous. If these new neighbors wish to preserve the tree’s on that one fellow’s land, they should strike a deal to pay him for the cost of the timber, thereby putting their money where their mouth is.

As far as preservation and conservation goes, they can both work well, if preservation is not overdone and the remaining lands are managed wisely. I love out west, and huge areas of land are National Forests or State Trust Lands. These areas are logged frequently, but responsibly. The more spectacular areas or those lands that are frequently visited for recreational purposes are kept preserved for everyone to enjoy. For us, it seems like a win-win situation. If there are issues with private land usage in which a landowner wishes to develop or log their land and the public opposes it, the voting population acts and passes new taxes and authorizes the city and county government to strike deals to preserve the land and compensate the landowner. This doesn’t always work, but no system is perfect.

As far as drilling in Alaska, I think there are better ways to deal with our energy dependency. Yes it is true that there is enough oil in ANWR to be profitable, but profitable to the oil companies, not profitable to the citizens of the United States. The government should encourage alternate and renewable fuel sources, because no matter how much we hope Americans will use mass transit, we love our cars too much.

I live in a fairly liberal part of the country, that being the Pacific Northwest, but at least in some areas the government seems fairly rational. Our local county and city government along with the voters decided what they wanted to work towards, and they have done their best to acheive these goals. I think it is a model that other areas may want to consider using.

And on a final note, I’m all for the government buying my house to make room for a school, but I’ll I’ll be damned the day they pave over my yard for a mall.

Check out Conservation Northwest at for a look at some of the work being done to effectively conserve and preserve our lands.

Posted by: Devin at January 24, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #116522


You’re silly,
Why can’t we explore alternitives that will gain independence while taking advantage of our own resources. We do live in the greatest country on earth. I own a SUV, and it’s great in the snow, I am never worried about getting stuck.

“Liberals” are silly, closed-minded hypocrites.

Posted by: andy at January 25, 2006 12:54 AM
Comment #117413

My, my Andy:

You seem a little touchy about your SUV. Perhaps you’ve heard that “gas guzzling” line once too often.


I don’t know what type of community you live in, but by my experience, mass transit systems work alright in urban areas with dense usage patterns.

However, I have also lived in small southern cities and there is not enough revenue from passengers to operate sufficient units to cover the area. When the destinations are spaced farther apart and not concentrated, a personal car is really the only option for most people.

I haven’t lived in rural areas except while in school and I can’t imagine living in the country without a vehicle.

I think that in order for a measure to truly conserve resources, it has to be efficient and relatively self-supporting.

Posted by: goodkingned at January 27, 2006 4:44 AM
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