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'GOAT' leaf loader at popular mountain destination

Maintenance crews clean up fallen leaves at one popular leaf peeping destinations -- Grandfather Mountain with 'Billy Goat Debris Loader.'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the spectacle of fall foliage continues across the Carolinas, Grandfather Mountain maintenance staff is facing the ongoing challenge of keeping up with falling leaves during peak attendance.

Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville nature park, said crews work especially hard during autumn to keep the park pristine for people visiting from around the southeast and even other parts of the country.

Maintenance crews clean up fallen leaves at one of the most popular leaf-peeping destinations -- Grandfather Mountain with 'Billy Goat Debris Loader', which is essentially a giant vacuum. It's affectionally named after Quarterback Tom Brady -- who is often referred to as 'the GOAT'.

Credit: Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
Grandfather Mountain leaf loader

Grandfather Mountain maintenance crews use the machinery to vacuum up the leaves, which are mulched in the process. Crews have collected 30 box loads so far this season.

Grandfather Mountain Communications Manager Frank Ruggiero says the leaf loader provides efficiency to the cleanup efforts. 

Ruggiero says this season has been the most robust for color compared to recent years. And he explained how a unique circumstance is playing a part in additional fallen leaves. 

"Over the past few years, we've noticed a little bit more leaf fall than normal," Ruggiero said. "That's because some years ago we had a winter storm that knocked down numbers of branches from trees. As those branches have grown back, so have the leaves, meaning additional leaf fall for our crews to clean up."

Ruggiero says the vacuum is essential to keeping the park pristine and the drains from clogging up. 

Contact KJ Jacobs at kjacobs3@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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