A picture out the bus window between Valles Caldera and Bandelier. In the front are trees in an area that has been burned about every seven years. Behind, is an area that had not been burned previous to Las Conchas.

Scientists and land managers from across the Southwest are gathered in Santa Fe this week to talk about last year’s record-breaking wildfire season and how to prepare for what’s ahead.  The first day of the conference, hosted by the Southwest featured a field trip to the edges of the Las Conchas burn area.  KUNM’s Conservation Beat reporter, Sidsel Overgaard, tagged along and has this report.

If you only remember one word in this story, remember this: “inevitable.”   There will be a test.

At the stroke of 8:00 I step onto a bus full of fire professionals and settle in next to a man dressed in his Forest Service greens.  Bill Armstrong, is fuels specialist for the Santa Fe National Forest and very well-acquainted with wildfire.  Before we’ve left Santa Fe city limits, he spells it out:

“We cannot keep fire out of these forests. We’ve tried for a hundred years and now we’re reaping the whirlwind, so to speak.”

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