This is a story in two parts. The first describes the timber industry and the ad valorem tax structure in Mississippi during the first several decades of the 20th century. The second introduces Ran Batson, an entrepreneur and lumber mill operator, whose history illustrates the adverse consequences of the Mississippi ad valorem tax as it inspired extensive clear-cutting of forests and resulting devastation. Fortunately, the Mississippi tax structure has subsequently changed to a more favorable approach, and in the last several years of his life, Ran Batson learned the benefits possible from managing his land holdings in a more environmentally sensitive manner.

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