Up in smoke: Is the U.S. Forest Service killing the last best chance to save the Southwest’s forests?

Tommie Martin points out across a dense thicket of low shrubs that stretches for miles. Blackened ponderosa pine trunks stab up at the sky.

“We’re looking at the skeleton of a forest,” she says.

It’s all that remains 23 years after eastern Arizona’s devastating Dude Fire killed six firefighters and burned 24,000 acres of overgrown ponderosa pine forest. Scientists say the forest will likely never return. The blaze was the first of the so-called “mega-fires” that now threaten forests across the West. This summer, in New Mexico, more than 100,000 acres have already burned.



  1. From my perspective at the 100,000 foot level, the founding collaborators made up of the USFS, industry leaders, private citizens, and conservation groups all took a lot of risk and years of hard work to put the “forest first” within the 4FRI boundary. Maybe it’s time for these great leaders to re-convene and take the lessons learned so far to help move this worthy project forward.

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