Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy hosts Roan Highlands volunteer work days

Published 10:59 am Monday, July 1, 2024

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Habitat management volunteer opportunities in July and August, for Appalachian grassy balds habitat

 ROAN MOUNTAINThe nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) is hosting two volunteer habitat management opportunities near the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan this summer – at Grassy Ridge in July and Round Bald in early August.

The Roan Massif is a tight cluster of mountains and ridges that straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Also known as the Highlands of Roan or Roan Highlands, this area contains many peaks that reach above 5,000 and 6,000 ft. elevation, considered high elevations of the southern Appalachians. The geographic characteristics and terrain of the Roan Highlands have created unique pockets of habitat and biodiversity at these highest elevations. SAHC leads volunteer work days during the summer to help manage Appalachian grassy bald habitat in the Roan Highlands. The globally important ecosystems and rare endemic species of the Roan Highlands require care and cooperation. SAHC partners with researchers, educators, and volunteers in restoring and monitoring habitat for rare plants and animals. Hikers along the Appalachian Trail also enjoy stunning views across the open, mountaintop grassy balds.

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SAHC’s annual Grassy Ridge Mow-off will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21. The work site is a hike of approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead at Carvers Gap, and volunteers are welcome to either camp out or come for the day.

“We invite folks to join other volunteers as we work to maintain the globally rare grassy and shrub balds found on Grassy Ridge, one of the most beautiful and ecologically significant sites in the Roan Highlands,” says Marquette Crockett, SAHC’s Roan stewardship director. “We’ll cut invasive blackberries and other shrubs using weed whackers and brush cutters. Volunteers enjoy great company and great job satisfaction! Our annual Grassy Ridge Mow-Off is more than just a work day – it’s an incredible way to experience the Highlands of Roan and to share cherished moments with friends. Backpackers and day trippers are both welcome.”

Grassy Ridge Mow-Off Planned Schedule:

Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. – Campers arrive, set tents and return to the work site.
Saturday, 10 a.m. – Day hikers arrive. Sign in/Orientation
Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Work time! (lunch break at 1 p.m.)
Saturday 4 p.m. – Bedtime. – Clean up and store equipment. Fun and Fellowship for campers!
Sunday 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. – A short work day and pack out. *Everyone should be prepared to pack out group trash.

Pre-registration is required, as the volunteer work coordinators will send additional information to registered volunteers prior to the event. More details and volunteer sign up for the Grassy Ridge Mow-Off at

The Round Bald Rubus Round-Up will be held on Friday, Aug. 2. Volunteers will help hand-mow and “lop” brushy areas (using weed-whackers and hand tools) in order to help remove Canada Blackberry (Rubus canadensis) and other woody vegetation to maintain the globally rare, grassy habitat atop Round Bald.

“This is a great chance to learn about what SAHC does to manage these rare habitats, without the commitment of a long hike in,” explains Crockett. “In general, we will be working within less than a 0.5 mile from the parking area. We encourage anyone who is new to conservation or to the Highlands of Roan to join us for this event.”

For the Round Bald Rubus Round-Up, volunteers will meet at the Carvers Gap parking lot at 9:30 am, and they should plan to bring water and lunch, leather work gloves and eye protection. More details and volunteer registration (required) at