[A] big part [of the solution], too, is supporting land uses, even if it means that you have to occasionally hear your neighbor’s firewood processor, or tractor, or smell their farm animals. If working lands are not properly valued in a community, then in a best-case ecological scenario the land will simply be gentrified. Instead of a field full of cows, chickens, and firewood (and all the positive ripple effects these products create in a rural economy), you’ll have a field full of goldenrod acting as a buffer around a fancy house that is heated with fuel oil and has a refrigerator stocked with trucked-in produce. In a worse case, you get more houses.


Biologists have fairly specific metrics that they assign to the habitat requirements of different wildlife species. Spotted turtles, for instance, have a home range of about a mile; they need space and connectivity within that footprint that allows them to feed at vernal pools in spring, then travel overland to lay eggs near swamps or small streams. I’ve never seen a metric that expressed this in human terms, but here we have an example that suggests that a 10-acre lot might be too small to sustain a rural way of life.

Dave Mance III, editor’s note, in Northern Woodlands, summer 2015