Follow us: Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Google+ Follow us on Linkedin Follow us on Tumblr Subscribe to our RSS or Atom feed
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Southern Weather Radar


Our Writers

  • Adam Peck
  • Alan Gordon
  • Alex Kearns
  • Alex Seitz-Wald
  • Alice Murray
  • Allison Korn
  • Alyssa Cagle
  • Amanda Marcotte
  • Amanda Peterson Beadle
  • Andrea Grimes
  • Andrea Lee Meyer
  • Andrew Bowen
  • Andy Brack
  • Andy Kopsa
  • Andy Miller
  • Andy Schmookler
  • Ann Marie Pace
  • Ann Woolner & Leonard Ray Teel
  • Anna Dolianitis
  • Anna Forbes and Kate Ryan
  • Annelise Thim
  • Anoni Muss
  • April Adams
  • April Moore
  • Ariel Harris
  • Armando
  • Arthur Blaustein
  • Austen Risolvato
  • Austin McMurria
  • Barry Hollander
  • Bert Roughton III
  • Beth Ostlund
  • Betsey Dahlberg
  • Bill Hamm
  • Bill Mankin
  • Bill Montgomery
  • Bill Moyers & Michael Winship
  • Bill Phillips
  • Bill Semple
  • Bill Tush
  • Billy Howard
  • Bob Bohanan
  • Bob Pritchard
  • Booth Malone
  • Bootsie Lucas
  • Boyd Lewis
  • Brad Clayton
  • Braden Goyette For ProPublica
  • Brett Martin
  • Brian Randall
  • Brianna Peterson
  • Bruce Dixon
  • Bruce E. Levine
  • Burton Cox
  • Candice Dyer
  • Carl Kline
  • Carol Carter
  • Casey Hayden
  • Cathleen Hulbert
  • Center for American Progress
  • Chantille Cook
  • Charles O. Hendrix Jr.
  • Charles Seabrook
  • Charles Walston
  • Chelsea Toledo
  • Chelsey Willis
  • Chris Bowers
  • Chris Kromm
  • Chris Wohlwend
  • Christopher Burdette
  • Chrys B. Graham
  • Chuck Collins
  • Cliff Green
  • Cody Maxwell
  • Collin Kelley
  • Craig Miller
  • Crissinda Ponder
  • Dallas Lee
  • Dan Kennedy
  • Daniel Flynn
  • Daniel K. Williams
  • Daniel Palmer
  • Danny Fulks
  • Dante Atkins
  • Darby Britto
  • Dave Cooley
  • Dave Johnson
  • Dave Pruett
  • David Bradford
  • David Evans
  • David Harris-Gershon
  • David Jenks
  • David Kyler
  • David Rotenstein
  • David Swanson
  • Dean Baker
  • Deb Barshafsky
  • Debbie Houston
  • Deborah Chasteen
  • Denise Oliver Velez
  • Dennis McCarthy
  • Desiree Evans
  • Dian Cai
  • Diana Delatour
  • Dina Rasor
  • Dindy Yokel
  • Doc
  • Don Lively
  • Don O'Briant
  • Door Guy
  • Doug Couch
  • Doug Cumming
  • Dr. Brian Moench
  • Dr. Nick De Bonis
  • E. David Ferriman
  • Earl Fisher
  • Eden Landow
  • Eileen Dight
  • Eleanor Ringel Cater
  • Elizabeth Shugg
  • Ellen Brown
  • Elliott Brack
  • Erin Kotecki Vest
  • Fatima Najiy
  • FishOutofWater
  • Francisco Silva
  • Frank Povah
  • Fred Brown
  • Frederick Palmer
  • Gadi Dechter, Michael Ettlinger
  • Gail Kiracofe
  • Gaius
  • Georgia Logothetis
  • Gib Ennis
  • Gina Williams
  • Gita M. Smith
  • Glenn Overman
  • Gordon Anderson
  • Gregory C. Dixon
  • Gryphon Corpus
  • Hamp Skelton
  • Harriet Barr
  • Heather Boushey
  • Henry Dreyer
  • Hollis B. Ball III
  • Hugh
  • Hyde Post
  • Ian Kim
  • Ian Millhiser
  • Isabel Owen
  • Ivy Brashear
  • J.A. Myerson
  • Jack deJarnette
  • Jack Wilkinson
  • Jacklyn C. Citero
  • Jake Olzen
  • James Hataway
  • James Marc Leas
  • James N. Maples
  • Janet Ward
  • Jasmine Burnett
  • Jason Palmer
  • Jason Parker
  • Jay Thompson
  • Jeff Cochran
  • Jeff Davis
  • Jeff Rayno
  • Jeff Spross
  • Jennifer Hill
  • Jesse Harwell
  • Jessica Luton
  • Jim Bentley and Jeff Nesmith
  • Jim Clark
  • Jim Cobb
  • Jim Fitzgerald
  • Jim Newell
  • Jim Stovall
  • Jim Walls
  • Jim Warren
  • Jimmy Booth
  • Jing Luo
  • Jingle Davis
  • Joan Donovan
  • Jodi Jacobson
  • Jody Wegmueller
  • Joe Earle
  • Joe Shifalo
  • Joel Groover
  • Joey Ledford
  • John A. Tures
  • John Dembowski
  • John Hickman
  • John M. Williams
  • John Manasso
  • John Sugg
  • John Tabellione
  • John Yow
  • Jon Sinton
  • Jonathan Grant
  • Joni Hunnicutt
  • Jonna Pattillo
  • Joseph B. Atkins
  • Joseph Gatins
  • Josh Dorner
  • Josh Sewell
  • Joy Moses
  • Judith Stough
  • Judy McCarthy
  • Juli Ward
  • Julian Bond
  • Julianne Wyrick
  • Julie Ajinkya
  • Julie Puckett Fodera
  • Just Plain Will
  • Kaili Joy Gray
  • Kate Greer
  • Kate McNally
  • Kathleen Brewin Lewis
  • Kathleen Harbin
  • Kathleen R. Gegan
  • Kathryn Hoffman
  • KC Wildmoon
  • Keith Graham
  • Ken Edelstein
  • Ken Haldin
  • Kevin Austin
  • Kevin Duffy
  • Kip Burke
  • Kirk McAlpin
  • Kirsten Barr
  • Kos Moulitsas
  • Kristie Macrakis
  • Lacey Avery
  • Lamont Cranston
  • Laura Clawson
  • Laura Smith
  • Laurence Lewis
  • Lawrence S. Wittner
  • Lee Leslie
  • Lee Robin
  • Les Eatwell
  • LikeTheDew
  • Linda Hunt Beckman
  • Linda Jordan Tucker
  • Lisa Byerley Gary
  • Lisa Kerr
  • Lois Beckett, Propublica
  • Lorraine Berry
  • Louis Mayeux
  • Lovell Jones, Ph.D.
  • Lucy Emerson Sullivan
  • Lucy Guest
  • Maggie Lee
  • Maisha White
  • Mandy Richburg Rivers
  • Margi Ness
  • Marian Wang, ProPublica
  • Marie Diamond
  • Mark Dohle
  • Mark Johnson
  • Mark Sumner
  • Martha W. Fagan
  • Mary Civille
  • Mary Elizabeth King
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Mary Lee
  • Mary Willis Cantrell
  • Matt Johnson
  • Matt Musick
  • Matt Renner
  • Matthew Wright
  • Maurice Carter
  • Meg Livergood Gerrish
  • Meghan Miller
  • Melanie Rochat
  • Melinda Ennis
  • Michael Beckel
  • Michael Castengera
  • Michael Ettlinger
  • Michael J. Solender
  • Michael Linden
  • Michael Lux
  • Michael W. Twitty
  • Mike Copeland
  • Mike Cox
  • Mike Handley
  • Mike Lofgren
  • Mike Ludwig
  • Mike Williams
  • Mike ”Hunter” Lazzaro
  • Mimi Skelton
  • Moni Basu
  • Monica Smith
  • Murray Browne
  • Myra Blackmon
  • Nancy Melton
  • Nancy Puckett
  • Nancy Robinson
  • Nancy Rogers
  • Neill Herring
  • Nelly McDaid
  • Nikki Gardner
  • Niles Reddick
  • Noel Holston
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Overman & Senn
  • Pamela Sumners
  • Pat Garofalo
  • Pat LaMarche
  • Patrick L. Ledford
  • Patsy Dickey
  • Patti Ghezzi
  • Paul Krupin
  • Paul Rutledge
  • Paul Thim
  • Pete & Jack
  • Peter Crawford
  • Peter Turnbull
  • Phil Gast
  • Phil Noble
  • Philip Graitcer
  • Phyllis Alesia Perry
  • Phyllis Gilbert
  • Piney Woods Pete
  • R. P. Singletary
  • R.L. Miller
  • Rafael Alvarez
  • Randy Conway
  • Randy Schiltz
  • Ray Bearfield
  • Raymond L. Atkins
  • Reagan Walker
  • Rebecca Sive
  • Richard Eisel
  • Righton C. Willis
  • Rob Chambers
  • Rob Coppock
  • Rob Douthit
  • Robert Dardenne
  • Robert Jensen
  • Robert Lamb
  • Robert M. Williams, Jr.
  • Robert Mashburn
  • Robert Weiner & Richard Mann
  • Robin Marty
  • Rodney Adams
  • Roger Gregory
  • Ron Feinberg
  • Ron Taylor
  • Rose Aguilar
  • Rose Weaver
  • Rosemary Griggs
  • Russ Wellen
  • Sam Morton
  • Sao Magnifico
  • Sara Amis
  • Sarah Ayres
  • Sarah Bufkin
  • Saralyn Chesnut
  • Scott Anna
  • Scott Borchert
  • Scott Keyes
  • Scott Wooledge
  • Seth Cline
  • Shane Gilreath
  • Sharon M. Riley
  • Shay Dawkins
  • Sheffield Hale
  • Sheila Barnard Nungesser
  • Sigrid Sanders
  • SoniaTai
  • Sonya Collins
  • Soraya Chemaly
  • Spencer Lawton
  • Stephanie Taylor
  • Stephen Lacey
  • Steve King
  • Steve Krodman
  • Steve Valk
  • Stuart Liss
  • Sue Sturgis
  • Sujigu
  • Susan De Bonis
  • Susan Soper
  • Susan Wilson
  • Suz Korbel
  • Tammy Andrews
  • Tammy Ingram
  • Tanya Somanader
  • Ted Kooser
  • Terri Evans
  • The Barnacle Goose
  • Thomas A. Bledsoe
  • Tiger Liliuokalani
  • Tim Oliver
  • Timothy Freeman
  • Timothy Hurst
  • Tom Baxter
  • Tom Crawford
  • Tom Ferguson
  • Tom Millsop
  • Tom Poland
  • Tom Walker
  • Travis Waldron
  • Travis Waldron & Pat Garofalo
  • Trevor Stone Irvin
  • Tricia Collins
  • Troubadour
  • Valerie Evans
  • Viveca Novak
  • Waldron, Somanader & Garofalo
  • Walter Rhett
  • Wanda Argersinger
  • Wayne Countryman
  • Wayne Johnson
  • We The People
  • Will Cantrell
  • Will Nelson
  • William Cotter
  • William Hedgepeth
  • Yana Kunichoff
  • Yasmin Vafa
  • Zack Beauchamp
  • Zack Ford
  • Zaid Jilani
  • Zaina Budayr



  • Login or Subscribe

    Like the Dew?

    We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.

    Bald Mountains: Another Unique, Endangered Southern Treasure

    by | Jul 31, 2009

    IMG_0632If you care for stunning views and spectacular landscapes, there is no better place in the South than the balds along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Jane and Round balds, along with Grassy Ridge, all north of Roan Mountain, are fabulous expanses of open grassy highlands stretching for hundreds of acres. The views are unparalleled on clear days, with fold after fold of blue-tinged mountain ranges rolling in every direction like a storm-tossed sea. Temperatures in mid-summer can be mild, often chilly, with bracing breezes ramping up to minor gales, sometimes accompanied by wisps of fog or passing cottony clouds that envelope the 5,000-foot-plus summits.

    You don’t have to be a backpacker to take in these views, either, even though the Appalachian Trail crosses the balds. They are easily accessible from Highway 226 that connects Spruce Pine, N.C. to the Johnson City, Tn. area, requiring only a slightly taxing walk of a half-hour along a well-maintained gravel trail that climbs only a few hundred feet from the parking area beside the highway at Carver’s Gap.

    IMG_0813What you will experience is a one-of-a-kind natural setting, and also something of a natural mystery. Nobody knows exactly why some of the tallest mountains in the Appalachians are bald. Verdant grasses and sedges that grow nowhere else this far south carpet the mountaintops, the invading line of trees and bushes for some reason stopping short of taking over the terrain.

    But, like so much of our natural world, this unique, self-contained mini-universe is teetering on the brink of disappearance. Numerous balds in recent decades have grown over with trees, wiping out rare and often endangered plants, many of which typically live only thousands of miles farther north. The plants in turn support bird and possibly other animal species that are also rare in these parts.

    And why should we care, I guess some might say? To me, losing the balds would be like letting a Picasso or a Monet deteriorate on your walls from neglect, moldering and fading until it finally simply vanished, a work of great genius, inspiration and uniqueness gone forever.

    Bradley GapScientists debate how and why the balds formed. According to an excellent piece in Audubon Magazine a few years ago, one of the most dedicated researchers is Peter D. Weigl, an ecologist from Wake Forest University who has spent four decades studying these unique habitats. Weigl believes the balds were a remnant of the last ice age, when howling, frigid weather forced trees to retreat from the mountaintops, inviting a profusion of grasses and plants more accustomed to living in tundra-like settings much farther north. The grasses attracted creatures like mastodons, tapirs and mammoths, which grazed the areas like pre-historic weed-eaters, keeping them clear. When most of those big creatures suddenly disappeared about 10,000 years ago, bison and elk moved in.

    Some researchers also believe Native Americans may have kept the balds clear by fire, too, perhaps maintaining them in order to make easier hunting of the beasts that feasted there.

    As with so many of our environmental histories, things changed when European settlers arrived. Within a century they killed off most of the bison and elk. Fortunately for the balds, the early farmers quickly capitalized on the waiting pastures, turning loose their goats, pigs, sheep and cattle, who grazed contentedly, keeping up the natural history of treeless mountaintops.

    IMG_0528But over the past few decades, most such grazing has vanished as mountain people have taken cash jobs and cut back on the size of their farming operations. The balds that for millennia have supported a unique panoply of plants like Gray’s lily, green alder, three-toothed cinquefoil, greenland sandwort, Bicknell’s rock rose and bronze sedge are now steadily shrinking beneath a steady advance of trees, shrubs and bushes.

    A few efforts have been made, some with encouraging results, to re-introduce grazers, especially goats, to eat back the vegetation. A scarcity of funding or a crowded list of priorities has kept the U.S. Forest and National Park services from large-scale projects, however, and many of the balds stretching from Virginia to northern Georgia will likely disappear within a few more decades. Even in the Smokies, officials have decided to concentrate their conservation efforts on Andrews and Gregory balds, while Spence and Russell fields grow over, untended.

    Despite the government’s lack of commitment, efforts to preserve the balds are still underway, most carried out by private non-profits like the Nature Conservancy, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Volunteers spend long hours hacking back IMG_0624the vegetation with weed-eaters, loppers and other tools. The Friends of Roan Mountain is funding a project that maintains a goatherd on the balds, something you can support with a donation. On Hump Mountain, another bald a few miles north of Roan, conservationists have encouraged a farmer who has imported long-horned African cattle to graze that massive open highland, making for a stirring sight for passersby.

    If you’ve never seen the balds, they are worth the trip, perfect for an afternoon of priceless views among plants you will see nowhere else south of Canada. And they could use your help, too, if you care to preserve this unique part of the South.


    To learn more about the balds and support their preservation, visit these websites:
    www.FriendsofRoanMtn.org
    www.appalachiantrail.org
    www.nature.org


    Photos from top:

    Foggy sunrise from Little Hump Mountain

    Cattle on Hump Mountain look out toward Grandfather Mountain

    Hump Mountain from Bradley Gap

    Sunrise from Little Hump Mountain

    Appalachian Trail descending Little Hump Mountain

    ###
    Mike Williams

    Mike Williams

    With roots in Mississippi and Alabama, Mike Williams worked for newspapers across the South for 27 years. After earning a degree in American Studies at Amherst College, he worked for Alabama newspapers in Baldwin County, Montgomery and Birmingham, followed by stints at the Miami Herald and The Atlanta Constitution. His last job was as a foreign correspondent for the Cox Newspaper chain. He now splits his time between Florida and the North Carolina mountains. His interests include race relations, history, Southern folk culture and the environment.

     

    Print Friendly

     

    Note: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for the agreed-upon rules of civility. Comments do not reflect the views of LikeTheDew.com. Comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click here to report a violation.

    • Terri Evans

      Magnificent piece. Magnificent photos. Magnificent Mountains. Thank you, Mike for informing us about these treasures, and yes, you have been successful in convincing me that they must be seen in person. Are there plans for chèvre from the goats?

    • mike williams

      Thanks. Dunno about the goats, but you could suggest it on your visit…

    • http://likethedew.com Keith Graham

      Mike: I’ve always loved your work as a writer but the pictures are really stunning. I look forward to visiting this area, and I’m convinced we ought to do what we can to preserve it.

    • chrys

      Your perspective and your photos remind me that there is so much beauty around us in America. I wonder why going to far away places is essential when I haven’t totally explored the beauty of our land. Thank you for reminding me that there is so much for me to see in my backyard.

  • Worthy of Comment



  • Also on the Dew

    A Tale of Two Men

    A Tale of Two Men

    By: David Evans

    The book review I just finished repeatedly asks, “What endures?” The author offers one possible answer: “Spaces in the heart that accommodate the absent.” When I read this, I had just learned of the deaths of Peter Matthiessen and Thomas Polgar. Matthiessen was the prolific writer and author of a multitude of books, including The Snow Leopard, his account of a grief-stricken journey to the Himalayas. Polgar was a legendary CIA officer and the last station chief in Saigon. His final cable from Vietnam quoted Jorge Santayana that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. Both lived full li  Read on →

    ‘Not everyone named Michelle is a loser’

    'Not everyone named Michelle is a loser'

    By: Monica Smith

    That’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young. Like they don’t have car accidents and sports injuries, etc? (Read the other day that there’s a chance auto and workmen’s comp insurance rates are going to decrease now that people have health insurance. Ripple effect). He went on to observe that “Kenny and Tracy hav  Read on →

    Writing Off A Generation

    Writing Off A Generation

    By: John Hickman

    Politicians from both parties might perform public anguish about the student loan problem but it is painfully obvious that they just don’t get how serious it is. The most recent Congressional legislation tying interest rates on student loans to the several points beyond the interest rates on treasury notes might have looked like an important reform in Washington, where achieving anything bipartisan is hailed a great victory, but not to the 37 million young Americans who are on the hook for more than one trillion dollars in student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. They owe an average of $  Read on →

    They Would Fix It If They Could

    They Would Fix It If They Could

    By: Mike Copeland

    The modern oil industry, vertically integrated exploration, extraction, refining and distribution of oil on a mass scale, began no later than 1825 in Tsarist Russia. In 1825 Russia produced 3500 tons of crude and refined it, mostly into kerosene. By 1850 the Russian output had doubled to over 7000 tons. By 1906 Russia had a pipeline over 400 miles long stretching from the oil fields in Azerbaijan to the Black Sea port of Batumi, the first major pipeline in the world. By the 1900 there were great strides being taken to develop oil fields in the United States and at  Read on →