Grassy Ridge Mow-off — Success!

Grassy Ridge Mow-off crew displays Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy pride.

– from SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director Judy Murray

I am happy to report that Grassy Mow-off 2012 was a rousing success!  What the 23 volunteers and our Field Ecologist Chris Coxen were able to accomplish far exceeded my expectations!  They re-treated three large areas, and were able to track their progress over time. 

The volunteer crew at work on the bald.

A true labor of love for this treasured resource, and one that continues to go down in the record books and the grassy balds database.

I’ve heard from a lot of people who said, “We thought of you in all that rain this weekend!”  To that we say, “What rain?”  There were a few moments of heavy mist.  That’s about it.  We put our tents up in the dry and the sun came out Sunday morning to dry off the dew.  We had our usual Saturday post-dinner gathering on The Rock.  We watched it rain the Roan valley Sunday afternoon, but hiked out in the sun.


Grassy Ridge camp

Grassy Ridge Mow-off camp – a great time and inspiring place for fellowship.

I want to give a great big thanks to David & Otto Smith, Jim Martin, Ted Keith, Randall Rogers, Craig Thompson, Karel Bernady (long-time crew member all the way down from PA!), Lee & Emily Bidgood, David & Will Joerling, Michelle Pugliese, Sarah Fraser, Stephen Carr, Christopher Clement, Eric Holcombe, Eric Jenkins, David, Christine & Esther Ray, Carolyn Novak, Jay Leutze and Tom Gatti for their hard work and great spirit! 


Volunteer crew

The volunteer crew relaxes after a solid day of stewardship work, restoring and enhancing the treasured grassy bald.

I can’t imagine a more willing group of workers — mowing, clipping, toting, not to mention carrying out “kitchen” chores!  Tom’s Saturday supper — North African Chicken Stew with Tunisian Pesto — was pronounced the best ever.   Add to this Carolyn Novak’s Killer Brownies — which we have re-named “Nirvana Brownies,” SAHC member Charlotte Ellis’s “World’s Best Coffee Cake,” Jim Martin’s country ham, Sarah Fraser’s pumpkin bread, and David Smith’s popcorn — all of this to round out our “regular meals,” turned the weekend into another “Mowing, Lopping and Fine Dining” event.

None of this progress would have been possible without our intrepid NC Dept. of Corrections BRIDGE Crew who hauled our equipment & supplies out on Friday and back in on Monday.  [BRIDGE is an acronym for Building, Rehabilitating, Instructing, Developing, Growing and Employing.]  They also do that wonderful mowing you see on Round Bald, and have helped on our Little Hump Mountain bald’s restoration project.  They have been our field partners for many years.

What is the Grassy Ridge Mow-off?

Gray's lily

Gray’s lily – a threatened native species – photographed by volunteer on the grassy bald.

Grassy Ridge is spectacular grassy bald that lies on the south side of the Appalachian Trail.  It has a swag or gap where we set up camp about 2.5 miles from the parking area at Carvers Gap.  SAHC has been holding mid-July bald restoration and maintenance weekends there for about 20 years.  Over the years we have made tremendous strides in returning Grassy toward its historic boundary, releasing many Gray’s lily to their open habitat along the way.

It was great to catch up with returning old friends and to welcome new ones to the fold.  To those of you who wanted to come, but couldn’t make it, we missed you.  Next time!

The 2012 Grassy Ridge Mow-off was held on the weekend of July 13-15th. We’ll post dates for next summer’s annual mow-off as soon as they are available. Check out our upcoming events at for more volunteer stewardship opportunities throughout the year.

Sunrise view of Grandfather Mountain from the Highlands of Roan balds.


Categories: Volunteer & Stewardship Activities | Leave a comment

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