David and Melissa Smith and their children Otto, Clyde, and Asa spent a weekend managing grassy balds habitat at Grassy Ridge and camping under the stars together. It’s become something of a family tradition. Otto has been helping with the Grassy Balds Mow-Off since he was 5 years old and understands the importance of habitat management; now in high school, he asks about it every year before it’s even on the calendar.
Grassy Ridge Mow-off ever, a handful of dedicated volunteers who have helped lead it in the past stepped up to fill in this summer. David serves on SAHC’s Land Management Committee. This year, the entire family camped and worked together to help manage grassy bald habitat.
“We had a fantastic time,” says David. “It was the first year that it did not rain on us, so that was unusual. The kids were super excited about going up there, and we enjoyed the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We couldn’t do as much as we normally do, but we wanted to help out.”
Otto has been volunteering since preschool, Clyde has been a couple of times, and this was Asa’s first time backpacking there. They were all happy to volunteer and contribute something.
“We missed the social aspects of the Mow-Off and the time with other folks watching stars and swapping stories in the evening,” shares David. “But it was a fantastic time together with the family. Melissa was very excited to be able to go again this year; she loves the mountain as much as I do.”
Daughter Asa feels a special connection to the mountain, too; she was named for renowned botanist Asa Gray, who first discovered the Gray’s lily on Roan Mountain.