NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In the early 2000s, a harvest of pine trees on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau led to a remarkable discovery.
Once sunlight hit the ground, native grasses and wildflowers that had lain dormant for decades began to spring to life.
The area was originally part of vast patchwork of Southern grasslands that hang on today only in tiny remnants, often in rights-of-way next to roads or under power lines.
They have often been an afterthought in conservation.
But that is starting to change.
The Southeastern Grasslands Initiative is working to restore thousands of acres of grasslands while also developing a seed bank, discovering new species and leading teams of volunteers to search for remnants.