On April 27, 2011, three sections of the Parkway were heavily impacted by a series of tornadoes. In these areas, most of the trees were either downed or damaged. Two of these sections were less than a mile in length. However, the eight-mile stretch between mileposts 204 and 212 experienced the most dramatic impacts. While the National Park Service removed the downed trees from the maintained roadside area, there is still plenty of evidence within the wooded areas of the storm's effects on the Parkway.
It is natural to wonder why the National Park Service doesn't remove all of the downed and damaged trees. These dead and downed trees provide food and habitat for many of the animals that call the Parkway home. By allowing nature to take its course, visitors can see firsthand the ecosystem's resiliency in response to dynamic forces.
As you visit the Parkway in the years to come, you will notice subtle changes that demonstrate the natural processes that are constantly going on around us. As time passes, the downed trees will decompose, providing nutrients to the soil for the next generation of growth. In time, nature will reclaim this area.
Last updated: April 14, 2015