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For us in the County of Los Alamos, the view of smoke on the horizon gives us the sense of “not again.”
As a resident, I have experienced the La Mesa Fire, the Dome Fire, the Oso Fire, the Cerro Grande Fire and now the Las Conchas Fire.
But in addition, as an ecologist for 33 years, I have studied and measured the recovery of several of these fires, especially the La Mesa Fire.
Out of the sense of hopelessness and grief of losing trees, I have found that watching the area recover from each of these fires has given me a sense of hope and awe at nature’s intricate balance and healing.
We sometimes see only the loss and not the miracle of rebirth.
Ponderosa pine and other forest systems have adapted to the presence of fire.
Fire has been a natural part of the ecosystem of the Pajarito Plateau, but we have lacked understanding of the role of fire, the influence of drought, of livestock, and of forest densities.
Now most fires are large, hot, and unforgiving. Prior to 1900, fires were generally cool and not of such great acreages.
But the basic fact is that these ecosystems harbor fire-adapted species.
What are some of the adaptations of plants and animals related to fire? This is a vast subject, but I will share a few observations here.
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