The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), Friends of Roan Mountain, and the Chargers hiking club had a terrific day herding goats up to Jane Bald in the Highlands of Roan for the 5th Annual Herding of the Goats for the Baa-tany Goat Project. Todd Eastin, who watches the goats for the majority of the year, led the charge and got 27 goats, two Great Pyrenees, and about forty people to the paddock on Jane Bald.
The rooster still had not crowed when participants arrived at Carvers Gap and although it was early, everyone was ready to lend a hand to get the goats to their new home for the summer atop Jane Bald. Todd gave the group a tactical breakdown of how to herd the goats up the mountain and after a safety briefing from Jamey Donaldson, the primary Botanist and Coordinator of the project, everyone was ready to go. The first goats out of the trailer were a three day old baby and her mama. One of our volunteers, six year old Sophia, had the task of carrying the baby goat all the way to Jane Bald. Hiking up Round Bald and Jane Bald empty-handed is hard enough so everyone was impressed with Sophia’s resolve.
There were several hiccups along the way as three of the more strong-willed-goats escaped the clutches of the volunteer herders. One of the those goats was recaptured while the other two remained at large for the next two days. Fortunately, goats #215 and #709 wandered back up to the paddock several days later and now the herd is safe and happily munching on blackberry.
Every June and September, SAHC participates in the Baa-tany Goat Project. As an avid reader of this blog, you might ask, “why would a land trust tend the field and shepherd a herd of goats?” The answer is surprisingly simple. The Highlands of Roan, SAHC’s flagship focus area, is one of the highest summits in the Appalachian Mountain range. Roan Mountain is unsurpassed in the south for the diversity of “northern” plant and animal species, remnants of the last Ice Age which have persisted in its cool high elevation climate. Thus, the purpose of the project is to restore the grassy ridge corridors using goats as an experimental management tool.
If you are interested in finding out more about the project or participating with SAHC next time, we will be helping Todd and Jamey bring the goats down from Jane Bald sometime in September.