The Day the Woods Closed

When Josie Weaver was a student at Ball State, walking through Christy Woods gave her a sense of peace, reminding her why she chose to major in natural resources.

Sharyl Grant unlocks the metal gates surrounding Christy Woods in a pattern. She starts with the south entrance by Ball State University’s Rinard Orchid Greenhouse, then moves clockwise, ending with the gates on the east side of the woods.

It was the morning of November 6, 2017. As she crossed the Prairie—the small, grassy section nestled in the middle of the woods—Grant noticed several trees had snapped in half from the winds of the previous night’s storm. This was the first tornado to cause so much damage since Grant started working as the manager of Christy Woods in 2001. The EF-1 tornado struck 14 trees, causing some to fall or lose their crowns.

After noticing the broken trees, Grant saw more damage. She saw tree limbs thrown across dirt paths. She saw the short, splintered trunks of once-tall oaks. Looking up, she saw limbs hovering above her head.

She turned back to the south entrance and locked the gate. Christy Woods couldn’t have visitors that day.

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