Rare species live in the dozens of treeless mountain tops, known as grassy balds, along the Southern Appalachians. Keeping the balds open means battling invasive plants, trees, and shrubs. A privately-owned cattle herd keeps them in check on Big Yellow Mountain, managed by the Nature Conservancy as a preserve since 1975. Part of a much larger project to protect the high elevation grasslands of the Greater Roan Highlands on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the cattle herd is one of the innovative strategies helping to conserve some of the Appalachians' most unique and threatened spaces as climate change alters land use. The Sandy Mush Forest Restoration Coalition, launched in 2019 by EcoForesters, is another conservation project in the region. The coalition, a nonprofit professional forest organization, aims to improve forest stewardship over 50,000 acres of mostly privately owned farms and timberland. The idea is that if a growing number of properties become more resilient to climate change over time, it solidifies an entire landscape. But finding the right economic incentives for cash-strapped landowners is a high hurdle.

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