Snapshots of a forest two years after a megafire

by Cally Carswell

Southwestern forests have become burdened by wildfires that burn much hotter than those that preceded nearly a century of fire suppression. These so-called "high-severity" fires have been stoked not only by plentiful fuels, but by dried-out vegetation and hot, dry weather. The 2011 Las Conchas Fire, which burned through 156,000 acres in New Mexico's Jemez Mountains, has become a poster child for the deleterious effects of high-severity fire in forests that are not adapted to it.  The fire killed entire stands of conifers, leaving few "mother" trees and making it unlikely that conifer forests will regenerate across parts of the landscape. These photographs offer snapshots of how different parts of the landscape are recovering two years after the fire.

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