Sunday, July 13, 2008

Keeping the Balds Bald

They're calling it The Baa-tany Project. These goats are part of a serious effort to save the grassy Balds in the Roan Highlands from encroaching forests. The origin of such balds has always been a subject of debate among scientists -- but whatever their origin it's clear that without some human help, the balds will eventually be bald no more. The goats are an experiment in vegetation management. About forty Angora goats, which are well-suited for high elevations, are munching away at the invasive woody plants in a 1/2 to 1 acre movable paddock, complete with solar-powered electric fencing. Volunteers are involved in monitoring the goats and hauling water up from mountain streams. If you want to get involved as a volunteer or if you'd like to 'adopt' a goat -- contact the Friends of Roan Mountain for more information. Click here for an excellent article about this project. If you'd like to experience the Roan balds or see the goats for yourself, head on out to Carver's Gap and take the Appalachian Trail (for about 1 to 1.5 miles) up past Round Bald and Jane Bald.

Directions: Take Route 19E to the town of Roan Mountain, turn onto Route 143 and travel 12.8 miles to the TN/NC state line (Carver's Gap). On your way up the mountain, you'll pass through the Roan Mountain State Park. Eventually, you leave the state park and enter the national forest. Park at Carver's Gap, cross the road to your left, and take the Appalachian Trail to the top of Round Bald -- this short hike will give you an amazing panoramic views of the mountains, a short distance further on the AT will take you to Jane Bald. If you continue on, you'll reach Grassy Bald. Click here for information about hiking the AT through the Roan Highlands; click here for a map of the area.

1 comment:

  1. That is a cool project! We also do that in Seattle.

    There is a woman that lends her goats to people to clear their own spaces of concern.


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