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Scorched Earth
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December 11, 2017

In this issue we examine the West's relationship with fire after a difficult wildfire season. In the wildlands of California, we look at how fire is being used as its own management tool; we also look at the mounting impacts wildfire has on watersheds in the region and on public health in Montana. We break down why Congress hasn’t provided a fire-funding fix, and in an essay, a firefighter contemplates his own mortality.

Feature

What fire researchers learned from California’s blazes
What fire researchers learned from California’s blazes
In California, land managers use fire as a tool.
Ancestral Pueblo logging practices could save New Mexico pinelands
Ancestral Pueblo logging practices could save New Mexico pinelands
Researchers look to the past to better fight fire.

Current

Beset by drones; disappearing orcas; covering Indian Country
Proper fire funding continues to elude Congress
Proper fire funding continues to elude Congress
Nearly everyone agrees it’s important. So what’s the hold-up?
It’s not only trees — wildfires imperil water too
It’s not only trees — wildfires imperil water too
Sediment-choked watersheds and erosion could become more frequent as wildfire activity grows.
Oregonians experiment with a new model to prevent megafire
Oregonians experiment with a new model to prevent megafire
A collaborative community-based project tackles overgrown forests.
In a burning West, wildfire smoke threatens public health
In a burning West, wildfire smoke threatens public health
Montana hospitals handled an increase of respiratory-related problems this year.
Why Western wildfires are getting more expensive
Why Western wildfires are getting more expensive
This year’s fire season was the costliest on record, burning more than 9 million acres.

Editor's Note

We need a better social contract with wildfire
We need a better social contract with wildfire
The 2017 fire season has made it clear our current policies don’t work.

Essays

‘Will my tears cool the ash?’
‘Will my tears cool the ash?’
A firefighter contemplates the fire season.
A ‘selfish’ decision
A ‘selfish’ decision
As neighbors evacuated, one family stayed behind.

Book Reviews

The geography of the Southwest, painted and illuminated
The geography of the Southwest, painted and illuminated
An artist of Kiowa and Caddo descent blends traditional and modern styles.
Nothing about future fires is guaranteed
Nothing about future fires is guaranteed
Except that they will come.

Heard Around the West

Car-eating marmots; poacher ring bust-up; a Tofurky surprise
Car-eating marmots; poacher ring bust-up; a Tofurky surprise
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

The season of celebrating begins, and a holiday party
The season of celebrating begins, and a holiday party
The staff enjoy a long holiday with feasts and adventure.

Letters

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