If You Can't Stop Wildfires, Tame Them

In his white Chevy Suburban, H.B. "Doc" Smith slows down. "Over on this side," he says, "there are perhaps 60 or 80 species in that forest." He points to an open meadow dotted with tall ponderosa pines. It doesn't look a forest as much as it does a savannah, having been thinned about 15 or 20 years ago to somewhat simulate the effects of fire. A handful of 15-foot trees and a dozen big, cinnamon-barked pines reaching up 80 feet grow among waist-high grasses. Sun drenches the ground as a red-tailed hawk sails above our heads.

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