Latest News

Free Native Trees Available for Residents of Ruston Affected by the April 25th Tornado

October 29, 2019

October 29th, 2019

Free Native Trees Available for Residents of Ruston Affected by the April 25th Tornado

WHERE—Ruston, LA
WHEN—Request trees beginning October 29th, 2019, with planting to take place February 8th, 2020

On February 8th, 2020, a coalition of regional and national partners will lead volunteers in
planting up to 150 native 15-gallon trees, free of charge, at the homes of residents of Ruston affected
by the tornado that struck on April 25th, 2019. Only the owner of an impacted property may ask for
trees and requests must be submitted online through RETREET’s website (
Representatives of RETREET and its partners will work with those who submit requests to determine
the best planting locations at each home site, and volunteers from all over the US will travel to Ruston
to join locals in planting the trees.

Ruston RETREET will address an often-overlooked part of the recovery process. Trees are
destroyed alongside infrastructure and housing in every disaster. While bringing life back to an area
produces an immense psychological impact by making unfamiliar, decimated landscapes feel like
home again, there are almost no resources available to do this unique work. Most people struggling
through the recovery process do not have time, energy, or funds required to replace their lost trees
and, furthermore, do not know which trees should be planted where, or when is best to do so. Of
everything lost, mature trees are what will take the longest to replace.

“It’s been a long journey back. RETREET’s volunteers and trees helped my community fill voids
left by the devastation and bring smiles as we watch them grow – a symbol that life is returning and
this will be a great place to live again,” said Rebecca Kasbaum, a resident of Moore, OK, pointing out
the impact RETREET’s work has had in her community following an EF5 tornado that devasted her
town on May 20, 2013.

Major funding for Ruston RETREET is generously provided by the Community Foundation of
Northern Louisiana — Community Foundation of Lincoln Parish Fund. Additional support comes from
Weyerhauser, Keep America Beautiful, and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Ruston RETREET will be a
major environmental and infrastructural investment that will leave a legacy for generations to come.
These trees, which will serve as powerful symbols of hope, also will reestablish the environmental
identity of Ruston, providing shade for residents and habitat for wildlife. RETREET is committed to
hosting numerous plantings over the next several years, as need be.

Inquiries about Ruston RETREET or future events and offers of support or participation can be
submitted to RETREET through their website (

RETREET redefines disaster relief by engaging communities to replant lost trees. To date, their
programs have brought 5,335 trees to thousands of families recovering from natural disasters in 17
different communities across North America. There is no other agency focused on this unique,
important, and underrepresented part of the recovery process. As such, RETREET has become the
national authority in this work.

Grady McGahan
Executive Director
(347) 610-4454
Available for interviews

Kristina Gustavson
Chief Executive Officer
Communities Foundation of Northern Louisiana
(318) 221-0582
Available for interviews

Lucius McGehee
Vice Chair
Lincoln Parish Fund
(318) 251-5851
Available for interviews

More Ruston News


P.O. Box 2069 - Ruston, LA 71273 (318) 251-8621
Bill Payment Customer Service (318) 251-8675 City Directory


Instagram Icon
Louisiana Retirement Area Certified Logo
Main Street America Accredited Logo
Louisiana Development Ready Communities Logo