Natural Bridge Regrows after Last Year's Derecho


Almost a year has passed since the powerful wind storm of last June. The storm sent trees crashing all throughout the state of Virginia.

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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY (WHSV) Almost a year has passed since the powerful wind storm of last June. The storm sent trees crashing all throughout the state of Virginia.

Natural Bridge is one of the most beautiful natural structures in the Commonwealth. It sits among thousands of trees and when the powerful wind storm, or derecho, of June 29, 2013 hit nearly one year ago, many trees came crashing down.

Now there is a new ecosystem growing where those trees once stood.

Wes Teets is an interpreter and nature specialist with the Natural Bridge. He said after the derecho, the number one priority at Natural Bridge was to get all of the debris off of the trails.

Nearly a year later, you could still see several down trees along the trail, but there's also something going on in that area that you might not see right away.

"So what happens when trees fall down is, it causes a disturbance in the ecosystem. It opens up the canopy, so, that a lot of understory shrubs can regenerate so this is a process known as ecological succession," said Teets.

Now, these new plants are seeing more daylight and they will continue to grow until the shade tolerant, faster growing species can outgrow them. This happens when a major disturbance interrupts the normal activity of the forest, like the powerful wind storm of last June, which toppled so many trees.

It's a recycling ecosystem process of the forest. It's only been a year, so Teets said it hasn't been a whole lot of time for these plants to rejuvenate yet.

He said he notices new plants and flowers all the time and with the change in shrubbery, he expects to maybe see some different bird species.

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