Baatany Project's Latest News
Info the Baatany Project received from the Forest Service
In regards to the cancellation of the 2016 Herding of the Goats (see below), Matthew McCombs, District Ranger for this part of the Pisgah National Forest, has given us permission to share the following email from him to Jamey Donaldson. This gives information which the Forest Service uses to approve any projects on its lands.
I apologize for keeping you in limbo regarding your permit request for 2016. After considering your initial and revised proposals, I have decided to authorize your original permit application for one additional year with the understanding that no additional research permits for the Bataany Goat Project will be issued beyond the final one-year authorization. I have a couple components to my rationale. First off, as you are aware this series of experiments is entering its 9th season. I am confident that with the body of knowledge you have developed distinct findings as well as recommendations for future management can be inferred. Secondly, typically research permits are short-term in duration and do not require analysis under NEPA due to either being benign activities in nature or short duration in timescale. I am concerned your project has evolved from a discrete research effort into an implicit adaptive land management approach, one that has not been analyzed under NEPA and one that clearly involves habitats home to threatened and endangered species. Until such time that we have a decision that analyzes and discloses the continued effects of your work the Baatany Goat Project cannot carry on. That in mind, we are in the final 12-15 months of the Pisgah/Nantahala plan revision process and the final plan will likely include a separate management area specific to Roan. I intend to use this new plan language to guide a collaborative planning effort leveraging all the voices and interests up on the mountain to contemplate all the ways we can approach maintaining and restoring grassy bald habitats and open areas on Roan. The output will hopefully be a multi-prong management approach that explores through adaptation the best and most sustainable tools for maintaining rare alpine habitats on Roan. I see grazing/browsing as a likely key component to this approach. Your work to date and further participation in citizen stewardship will help guide this effort, which is to say, I hope beyond this field season you will stay engaged. You have a unique role to play.
I want to thank you for the many years you have been conducting your experiments. You have encouraged and engaged many devoted citizens in your work. I am hopeful that the information you have gathered and the conclusions/recommendations you will draw will help shape management of grassy bald ecosystems on Roan and across the southern Appalachians going forward. I am happy to talk with you regarding my decision if you have follow up questions or concerns, feel free to reach me at either number below. Again, thank you for your commitment to public lands and Roan Mountain.
Forest Service Shield
Matthew M. McCombs
Pisgah National Forest
p: 828-689-9694 x101
632 Manor Road
Mars Hill, NC 28754
9th Annual Herding of the Goats Cancelled
Dear Baatany Volunteers and Supporters,
We regret to announce that the 9th Annual Herding of the Goats onto the Balds has been cancelled. The Pisgah National Forest approved our research permit but made clear we will not be allowed to continue beyond 2016 pending outcomes of the new forest plan and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).
Other difficulties made getting the goats on the balds especially challenging this year, which, combined with not being able to plan beyond 2016, led us to cancel the goat part of the project. Our final summer focuses on wrapping up the science (assorted vegetation monitoring projects) and summarizing 9 years of research.
We invite your participation in the forest plan revision process which can be accessed at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/home/?cid=stelprdb5397660.
As the ranger notes, Roan will likely be given special treatment in the plan. Whether this treatment will include the use of browsing animals is not known. But for those of you who have taken special interest in the goats and dogs, they continue to reside at the Eastin's mountain farm in Shady Valley, TN.
The future of Roan's ecology is now best pursued by addressing policy.
Thank you on behalf of the goats, dogs, and high mountain ecology,
Jamey Donaldson and Todd Eastin
Article in Our State Magazine
During last year's herding up to Roan, the normal component of volunteers was joined by writer Leigh Ann Henion and photographer H. Scott Hoffmann, seen in the photo above.
Those of you who were there may recall that almost half the goats decided to take an all day detour on their way up to Jane Bald.
Our State has just published the article which Leigh Ann wrote for them on the events of that day. Combined with Scott's fabulous photographs, they have provided readers a wonderful first-hand account of that memorable herding. Many thanks to Our State magazine for providing the link to this story for us.
The Goat Whisperers of Roan Mountain, from Our State, April, 2016 issue.