Glade Spring Survey Participants

Community Tree Restoration a Decade After Tornado Destruction

This study is conducted by the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment with grant funding from the Virginia Department of Forestry.


In April 2011, the southeastern United States was hit by the largest outbreak of tornado events in recorded history. The hundreds of tornadoes left the region in a state of destruction with hundreds of lives lost and billions of dollars in damages. On April 28th, 2011, an EF3 tornado with wind speeds nearing 140 mph passed through the southwest Virginia community of Glade Spring, carving a path of destruction 20 miles long and almost a mile wide.

Image provided by Our Father’s House

Glade Spring typifies many small communities interspersed between large metropolitan areas across Virginia and much of the Southeast that was heavily impacted by the effects of the tornado destruction. In this rural residential setting, hundreds of shade trees populating yards, parks, and streetscapes were damaged or destroyed. We are aiming to examine the factors associated with successful tree canopy replenishment, growth, and the provision of urban forest ecosystem services in Glade Spring, VA a decade after the tornado.

Project Objectives

Through our research, we are seeking to understand how tree canopy cover has recovered from the tornado, what role tree planting played in that recovery, and how community members feel about the reforestation efforts. Our research team has worked since January 2022 to better understand the Glade Spring reforestation through remote sensing, analyzing tree canopy cover change. Further, our goal in working with community members in Glade Spring is to understand a direct narrative from local knowledge and experience.

Through this survey, we will better understand the tornado’s impacts on the community forest and the participation in replanting trees. In order to assess the survival, growth, and landscape conditions of the trees affected by the tornado, we will conduct a field survey of properties to locate those trees. Each parcel that participates in our tree survey will receive a tree report of tree species, size, condition, and the benefits provided to the property.

Community Survey Participants

Information can be gathered from these community surveys that will help Virginia Tech and the Virginia Department of Forestry improve their assistance to communities across the Commonwealth facing similar natural disasters. If you are interested in supporting us to gain a better insight into Glade Spring’s reforestation, we want to know more about the local community’s story! Participation in this survey will significantly benefit our understanding of the impacts of natural disasters on urban forests.

If you are interested in participating in our survey, please click the link below!

Research Partners

Dr. Eric Wiseman, PhD
Project Leader
Associate Professor, Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
Virginia Tech

Dr. Mikaela Schmitt-Harsh, PhD
Associate Professor, Dept. of Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies
James Madison University

Meghan Failor
GIS Specialist, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Major: Environmental Informatics
Fredericksburg, VA

Seferina Olivo
Community Outreach, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Major: Environmental Resource Management
Abingdon, VA