Standing up, backing down

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Standing up, backing down

Safety concerns prevent fast attack on two Southwest Colorado blazes
Fire Trap

The nation is in a fire trap: With each wildfire that is put out, the fuel load grows, and more people are enticed to move into the forest, increasing the demands for fire suppression.
Sunday: The Forest Service has understood for decades that forests need fire to stay healthy. And yet it puts out 98 percent of all fires.
Monday: When homes are nearby, fire managers lose many of their options.
Tuesday: Even though more homeowners are heeding the Firewise message and clearing out overgrown vegetation, there’s no such thing as a fireproof forest neighborhood.
Wednesday: As the West burns, Washington is paralyzed by a three-way fight between the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Today: Against all odds, foresters in Southwest Colorado have been able to let nature have its way in recent wildfires.

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Standing up, backing down

Faced with dangerous terrain, firefighters focused their efforts on protecting structures and let the West Fork Fire burn through the San Juan and Rio Grande national forests.
Recovery starts in small ways, with fireweed and moths, for the 170 square miles of forest scorched in the West Fork Complex of fires. It could be centuries before the spruce forest returns to its prefire state.
Adam Mendonca, deputy supervisor of Rio Grande National Forest, looks over the blackened landscape and new growth blooming in the wake of the West Fork Fire.
Two months after fires burned through the Rio Grande National Forest, new life appears from beneath a burned tree. Grasses, willows and aspens are likely to grow in the burned-up spruce fir forest.
After the devastating West Fork Fire scorched the earth in the Rio Grande National forest, fireweed appears, showing its contrasting beauty next to the blackened landscape.
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