The resources considered necessary for community self-sufficiency have expanded beyond natural resources to include techniques for communication, transportation, commerce and financing which were once considered luxuries.
In small mining communities, natural resources other than the mine (such as unutilized land, unused water resources or natural forests of valuable timber) may often be ignored and undeveloped. The land is usually owned and maintained by outside agencies, and is not always seen as an untapped reservoir of economic potential, so that land resources are undeveloped and the community does not receive the benefits of this economic resource. Even if, as is often the case, there is a sizeable amount of land that has been cleared of housing and is now unoccupied, the legal procedures for any new ventures are complex, lengthy and challenging. Plans to make lakes into recreation areas may be abandoned because of conflicting demands for irrigation by farmers downstream. Farmers, however, need water rights. Any new industries will need not only water-power and land, but also supporting services.
Maximum use of natural resources in small communities is crucial in order to expand local food supplies, create jobs for residents and increase the community's revenue. However, in many communities an abundance of resources remains only partially used; in particular, possibilities for land use are not explored. Seasonal patterns contribute heavily to under-utilization of resources, as they create a sense of impermanence in employment and a feeling of hopelessness about the possibility of upgrading the economic life of the community.