Science on Roan Mountain

Baatany Project's Botany Project

The past eight years of the Baatany Project has first and foremost been an attempt to restore Grassy Bald and Alder Bald on Roan's western balds using goats as an experimental management tool. The first scientific publication from this project, with Jamey Donaldson as lead author has been published in the Southeastern Naturalist:

Donaldson, J.T.; Z.C. Dinkins; F. Levy; A. Nandi. 2014. Surface-soil properties of Alder Balds with respect to Grassy and Rhododendron Balds on Roan Mountain, NC-TN. Southeastern Naturalist 13(2): 377-395.

Gray's Lily Research

The Gray's Lily (Lilium grayi) is a spectacular and rare flower found on Roan Mountain. It has been significantly affected in recent years by a fungal pathogen. Joe Powell, an undergraduate honor student at ETSU, started the recent research on this pathogen in 2010. Russell Ingram picked up the research for his ETSU master's thesis. Please see this page for more information, as well as access to both these published theses.

The Science behind the Goats on the Roan

What started all this

8 years ago, Jamey Donaldson theorized that the use of grazing animals would benefit the plant life on Roan Mountain, both in terms of variety of plant life, as well as its health. Over the 8 years this project has been in existence, he and various ETSU students have monitored plant growth both where the goats have grazed, as well as in plots left as control, where no grazing has occurred.

Below is a link to a paper by Peter Weigl and Travis Knowles whose theory provides the general basis for using goats for restoring Roan's balds.

Temperate mountain grasslands: a climate-herbivore hypothesis for origins & persistence by Peter Weigl & Travis Knowles, was published online in October 2013 (open access, free to anyone) at


Click the image below for a full size pdf (will open in a new window)
(2014 data not yet available)

Data from 2008 - 2013

Video documenting effects of 5 years (2008-2012) of goat grazing

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Photos taken over the course of 5 years
documenting the Baatany Project's effects
on vegetation

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Many thanks to the Ahn Trio for the addition of their beautiful composition "Dies Irie" composed by Kenji Bunch as the background music for this slideshow.