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Roan Stewardship Updates 2020

balds management volunteersFrom seasonal bird surveys to trail management, education, and habitat restoration, the Roan Stewardship crew continues to care for our flagship conservation focus area. We are grateful to our partners at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for their support in this work!

Like many things in our world, SAHC’s grassy balds management looked different in 2020. We hand-mowed a total of 7.5 acres from Round Bald to Grassy Ridge, which is about the typical acreage mowed by our Grassy Ridge Mow Off and Roany Boyz events. Our first priority was to keep staff and volunteers safe and comfortable, so we scaled back the number of folks allowed to be out each day to less than ten people, total. We relied on long term volunteers, who knew what to expect and didn’t mind following safety protocols set by both SAHC and the U.S. Forest Service. However, due to state regulations, we were not able to cooperate with the NC BRIDGE program this year. NC BRIDGE has been doing the “heavy lift” of balds management for more than 15 years, mowing every day for two weeks and carrying out equipment for our volunteers. Read more

Roany Boyz (and Girlz) Volunteer Weekend

Join the Roany Boyz and Girlz in a weekend of jovial camaraderie while helping manage the grassy balds habitat at Engine Gap in the Highlands of Roan. Come for a day, or set up camp at Round Bald and stay for the weekend! For more info or to volunteer with the Roany crew, contact Carol Coffey at caroltee@aol.com.

Roan Balds Management 2017

It takes a village to care for our mountains, and SAHC, our partners, and volunteers certainly made that happen this summer.  In less than four days of work, more than 25 volunteers cut blackberry from about seven acres of grassy and shrub bald habitat during our annual Grassy Ridge Mow-Off and Roany Boyz stewardship events. A big thank you to all the folks who came out to mow, to rake, to cook, and to photograph these events. They simply wouldn’t happen without you!

“After expecting rainy weather the weekend of the mow off, it was a pleasant surprise to have sunny skies and great views for much of the Grassy Ridge Mow-Off,” said Sarah Sanford, Duke Stanback Intern. “I really enjoyed meeting and working with such a wide variety of people, from folks who were there for the very first Grassy Ridge Mow-Off to brand new SAHC members. My favorite part was the views from our campsite on Grassy Ridge. Being part of the Grassy Ridge Mow-Off gave me a better perspective on the large scope of work that SAHC and its volunteers do to maintain the Roan Highlands.”

We would like to give a special thanks to the NC BRIDGE crew this year. In addition to hauling equipment to Grassy Ridge and Engine Gap for our volunteer events, they cleared 3.5 acres of grassy bald habitat and maintained 1.76 acres of early successional habitat on our Roan Mountain Gateway preserve. The BRIDGE (Building, Rehabilitating, Instructing, Developing, Growing, Employing) Program is a cooperative effort between the NC Forest Service and the NC Division of Prisons based out of Western Youth Institution in Morganton, NC. The primary goal of the program is to provide well-trained and equipped forest fire fighting crews ready at a moment’s notice. A secondary, but important, goal is to develop a strong work ethic and work skills so inmates will be able to secure a job when they are released.  For more than 20 years, BRIDGE has been crucial to our habitat management work. Every year, we are always privileged to witness the hard work, dedication, and professionalism exhibited by this crew.

Thank you all!

Poem below contributed by Bill Ryan, Roany Boyz Volunteer 2015-2017

The Roany Boyz  2001-

once a year
in one gap on the AT
in high summer
they gather

to work
to eat
to talk
to lay down ever wearier bodies to camp

some poetry
some stargazing
no campfire out of respect for the land

drinks just cool enough from the spring
work measured in tanks
dream images of blackberry and alder leaves interlacing

coming back to the same places
still trying to figure out why the balds were bald before them
eating a few early blueberries and seeking the elusive Gray’s lily

Roany Boyz & Girlz Volunteer Weekend

Join the Roany Boyz and Girlz in a weekend of jovial camaraderie while helping manage the grassy balds habitat at Engine Gap in the Highlands of Roan. Come for a day, or set up camp at Round Bald and stay for the weekend! For more info or to volunteer with the Roany crew, contact Carol Coffey at caroltee@aol.com.

The Roany Boyz – 2013 Volunteers of the Year

volunteergroup.jpgThe Roany Boyz began as a group of friends who liked to hike and camp together.  One of the group — former SAHC president Carol Coffey — was involved with our annual Grassy Ridge Mow-off, in which volunteers spent the third weekend of July cutting back invasive plants to protect the quality of the Grassy Ridge Bald.  The Appalachian Trail in this area crosses Round Bald, Engine Gap, Jane Bald, and a shoulder of Grassy Ridge.  Hiking out to Grassy Ridge, Carol noticed that Engine Gap and the Southwest side of Jane Bald were rapidly being overgrown with blackberries.   Judy Murray, SAHC’s head of Stewardship for the Roan Highlands at the time, agreed to provide tools, primarily weed eaters, if Carol could form a volunteer group to work at Engine Gap. So, in 2001 the Roany Boyz began volunteering to manage grassy balds habitat at Engine Gap.  Read more

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