Conservation and protection

Circular 414-A




When I was a child we had a burro I called Gacho. He was a typical burro, omnivorous in his eating habits and prone to streaks of extreme recalcitrance.

Our yard wasn't very large, but it did produce enough grass and weeds to keep old Gacho in good fettle. His first preference was for the native grasses, and he chose to graze the lush patches rather than the shriveled plants on the areas of thin soil. Nevertheless, he was not particular and seemed to graze to some extent all over the yard. He often nibbled in the flower beds and I sometimes wondered whether he did this just for spite.

After a time I arranged some crude fences and a tethering rope to keep him out of the most important flower beds.

The yard was so small that we had a waste problem. To ignore the problem would hardly have been civilized, but, on the other hand, one couldn't follow him around all day with a shovel. So a workable compromise was adopted by keeping him penned up at night in a small enclosure, which, of course, could not be kept immaculate but was at least reasonably clean.

We had the burro and we weren't getting rid of him. He was useful; we enjoyed riding him and hitching him up to our wagons. But he was a bother sometimes.

Here was a simple case of resource use and resource development. The case is incomplete, but it demonstrates a principle.

The resource, represented by the vegetation, was being utilized, or developed if you will, by a small juggernaut which was only partly controllable by my youthful skills. There was no need to urge utilization. That followed as a matter of course. The problem was that the one who utilized the resource, in this case the burro, was not very discerning of relative values. To Gacho the choice of which plant to eat and where to get rid of the waste was governed only by his own interests and convenience.

Now, when a planning body convenes, one may bet that either the burro has Jain down in a flower bed or he has messed up the yard. By this time everybody is already in a lather.

An appreciation of the existence of problems usually leads to a period of organizing the facts, assessing the current situation, and surveying the future possibilities. In the New England area such an assessment has recently been completed. Since that stage has been reached, it is logical to discuss the function of a planning unit as a prelude to the next phase. I should like to outline my own thoughts on this matter, but I do so without expecting to convince all others.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Conservation and protection
Series title:
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
5 p.
Public Comments:
Presented before a meeting held by the Northeastern States Resources Council, Concord, N. H., Jan. 30, 1958
Conference Title:
Meeting of the Northeastern States Resources Council
Conference Location:
Concord, NH
Conference Date:
January 30, 1958