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  1. #1
    Moccasin, 2008 Thru-hiker TrippinBTM's Avatar
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    Question Grayson Highlands

    Ok, so I seem to remember reading a sign/information board there that said the Highlands used to be forested. I can see looking at pictures here on Whiteblaze that there are small trees (pines, mainly) growing amid the meadows. Why haven't they taken over? Obviously the ponies' grazing would limit regrowth, but they aren't everywhere in the Highlands, are they? Why don't the trees grow back?

    I guess this question applies to the southern balds, as well...

  2. #2
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    The ones that are not "maintained" by grazing, mowing, or burning are growing back over. The theory is that they originated from fires caused by lighting strikes, and were maintained by Indians and later early settlers for hunting and grazing lands.

  3. #3

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    Southern Appalachian balds-- the subject of ongoing research.

    My understanding is that there a 2 main types of balds- grassy balds and heath balds. The former balds are formed/maintained as explained by Mocs. The heath balds are generally covered by rhodo, mountain laurel, and blueberry. Supposedly these balds are covered by a thin layer of acidic soil that will support the above shrubs, but not suitable for tree growth. I love the balds!!!
    The necessities of life weigh less than 20 pounds. Everything else is a luxury.

  4. #4
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    this article (posted on Sherpa Guides website written by Deane and Garvey Winegar) is in reference to grayson highlands:

    >>"Open balds such as this one(they're talkin about Massie Gap)—and the one atop the peak of Whitetop visible to the west—remain for a number of reasons. First, soil buildup is painstakingly slow. Second, occasional fires—and the grazing ponies at Massie Gap—keep the balds open. And third, wind, cold temperatures, and shrouds of acid-laced fog make the summits the last places to recover from deforestation. "

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