Although Stadium Woods has remained relatively untouched during Virginia Tech’s 139-year history, married students were housed in trailers between the trees in one section during the enrollment explosion following World War II. Remnants of concrete sidewalks and porch foundations of “Cassell Heights” can be found in the woods just east of Cassell Coliseum.
Old-Growth Forest/Stadium Woods
The rare old-growth urban forest near Lane Stadium on the campus of Virginia Tech covers approximately 11.5 acres. It contains over 250 large trees, including dozens of white oak trees that have been estimated by scientists to be over 300 years old. The woods are unofficially referred to as Stadium Woods. In a spot surrounded by pavement and concrete buildings, Stadium Woods absorbs rainwater and cools the vicinity in summer. The 2009 Virginia Tech Master Plan Amendment identifies the site as an environmental and cultural greenway, defined as “a significant reservation of lands, waterways, tree stands, and cultural landmarks for future generations.”
Research has shown the old-growth urban forest to have a balanced, uneven-aged structure, which is rare, particularly for forests in urban settings. Evaluations reveal consensus in perspectives among stakeholders in that this forest patch, as the only untouched greenspace left on campus proper, has historical, educational, and research importance. The forest provides significant ecosystem services and is ecologically unique and rare. It reflects and contributes to the importance of the region’s natural environment as a premium example of a white oak late successional primeval forest community.